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Cattle Handlers - Improving Safety and Skills

Cattle Handlers - Improving Safety and Skills

By Scout Nelson

Morgan Marquardt, a passionate advocate for animal welfare and a graduate student specializing in animal science at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln, is leading research aimed at enhancing cattle handler safety.

Hailing from Holdredge, Nebraska, Marquardt is not only pursuing her master’s degree but also considering a doctorate to deepen her commitment to animal and handler welfare.

Currently, the beef industry gauges handler expertise primarily by years of experience—a method Marquardt finds flawed.

“There’s actually no data to support the assumption that there is a relationship between the skill level of an animal handler and years of experience,” she explains.

This gap in the industry's understanding prompted her to focus her research on developing more accurate measures of handler skills.

Working closely with her advisor, Dr. Ruth Woiwode, Marquardt is using the Cattle Handler Skill Assessment Tool to collect essential data.

Participants in her study complete a survey about their experience levels and other skill-related factors before undertaking handling trials. This approach aims to establish a more reliable way to assess handler skills.

The significance of Marquardt’s work extends beyond academia. With cattle often weighing over 1,000 pounds, handling these animals can pose substantial risks.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that animal production and aquaculture have a significantly higher rate of fatal injuries compared to crop production, emphasizing the need for improved safety practices.

“People and animals have an inborn value just because they exist,” Marquardt passionately states, underscoring her philosophy. By enhancing handler training and safety protocols, not only is the wellbeing of the handlers improved, but also the care provided to the cattle.

As the agricultural workforce evolves, with fewer people directly engaged with livestock, Marquardt sees both challenges and opportunities.

She is optimistic about the potential of her research to foster safer working environments and to enhance the industry's knowledge base, concluding, “I am so excited to be able to exist in that space and hopefully contribute to that knowledge. I think it’s an exciting opportunity to be able to help people.”

Through her innovative research and dedication, Marquardt is setting the stage for significant advancements in the field of cattle handling, aiming to ensure safety and quality care for both handlers and animals alike.

Photo Credit -gettyimages-imaginegolf

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Categories: Nebraska, Livestock, Beef Cattle, Dairy Cattle

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