Research Article Open Access

Evaluation of the Texas Feed Yard Workforce: Survey of Stockperson Attitudes and Perceptions towards Euthanasia, Animal Care and Employee Value

Emily E. Ridge1, Ron Gill 2 and Courtney L. Daigle1
  • 1 Texas A&M University, United States
  • 2 Texas A&M AgriLife Extenstion, United States

Abstract

A survey was administered to Texas cattle feedyard employees (n =111) from 31 different operations measuring stockperson perception, job satisfaction and socioeconomic status using Likert statements and multiple-choice questions. Differences among employment roles (manager, pen rider, processor (those who vaccinate and implant incoming calves), doctor (non-veterinarians)) were evaluated using a Kruskal-Wallis test followed by a Multiple Comparison procedure. Managers strongly agreed with the statement “beef cattle are not dirty” more than doctors (P = 0.03) and that “cattle behavior is affected by the way we treat them” than pen riders (P = 0.002) or processors (P = 0.01). Managers were less likely than doctors, pen riders and processors to believe they have too many cattle to look after (P = 0.05, P = 0.006 and P = 0.01, respectively). Pen riders reported less confidence in performing euthanasia than doctors (P = 0.02) and managers (P = 0.02) and, along with processors, agreed that cattle were not always euthanized in a timely manner (P = 0.02 and P = 0.02, respectively). While all roles viewed Holstein cattle unfavorably (P < 0.001), processors viewed them more positively than pen riders (P = 0.05) and managers (P = 0.001). Socioeconomic results showed that Texas feedyards have a dedicated, passionate work force, with 43% of participants having worked in the industry for 9+ years and 49% of participants working at cattle feedyards because they enjoy working with animals. Unfortunately, it was evident that stock people are underpaid (57% of participants making between $10-15/hr) and overworked (76% of participants working 50+ hrs/week). Survey responses identified critical role-dependent knowledge gaps and biases. A disconnect was observed among compensation, workload and the duration of time stock people spend interacting with cattle. Increasing industry investment in feedyard employees and providing breed-specific and employee role-specific education may promote an encouraging workplace that ensures feedlot cattle experience good welfare.

American Journal of Animal and Veterinary Sciences
Volume 14 No. 2, 2019, 139-150

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3844/ajavsp.2019.139.150

Submitted On: 22 February 2019 Published On: 28 May 2019

How to Cite: Ridge, E. E., Gill , R. & Daigle, C. L. (2019). Evaluation of the Texas Feed Yard Workforce: Survey of Stockperson Attitudes and Perceptions towards Euthanasia, Animal Care and Employee Value. American Journal of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, 14(2), 139-150. https://doi.org/10.3844/ajavsp.2019.139.150

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Keywords

  • Stockperson
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Animal Perception
  • Euthanasia