Raising Animals in a Healthy and Stress Free Environment - Food Dialogues

Raising Animals in a Healthy and Stress Free Environment

Darrell Glaser, Texas farmer

Tags: , Animal Welfare

Darrell Glaser, turkey and cattle producer in Rogers, Texas, says animal welfare is the most critical factor that influences animal health on their ranch. The critical elements they implement and monitor on their farm include temperature, air quality, water quality, litter quality and biosecurity. 

From raising a flock of 120,000 turkeys and facilitating calving season for our cattle herd to cutting and baling the hay crop, it’s the busiest time of year at Bar G Ranch in Rogers, Texas. We’ve continuously run our family farm for almost 100 years, and each generation commits to creating the best environment for our turkeys and cattle.

On our ranch, we receive turkeys when they are just one day old — this is the point in their life when they are the most vulnerable. It’s a primary goal of my entire family and all employees on our farm to ensure that our baby turkeys have a healthy and stress free start, and we go to extreme lengths to accomplish this goal.

The critical elements that we implement and monitor on our farm include temperature, air quality, water quality, litter quality and biosecurity.

Temperature: When the baby turkeys arrive on our farm, they do so in a climate controlled truck. At the time of delivery, our houses are pre-warmed to 85 degrees to ensure that the day old baby turkeys, called poults, are as comfortable as possible. Baby turkeys like warm temperatures, and these heaters foster a positive growing environment.

Air Quality: All of our houses are equipped with computerized controls that allow us to maintain a constant temperature to control ventilation and air quality. We base all of our temperature and ventilation decisions on the activity of the turkeys, and we spend time each day observing the turkeys in our houses, adjusting levels based on these observations. We have used this philosophy for more than 20 years of turkey production.

Water Quality: We make sure that our animals have access to an ample supply of feed and water at all times. We take water samples to monitor our water quality and check chlorine levels and acidity of the water to make sure it’s what the turkeys desire. We have found that the more comfortable and happy we keep our turkeys, the healthier they will be.

Litter Quality: Every morning we walk all of our houses. During this time, we observe the behavior of our turkeys, check on equipment and examine litter quality. Throughout our daily house monitoring, we inspect floor quality and litter moisture. As needed, we aerate the litter to promote drying to keep our floors clean and maintain an optimal growing environment for our turkeys.

Biosecurity: Similar to humans, staying healthy is big key to being happy. The two major factors that influence health are stress and exposure to disease. Since we started raising turkeys, we have always had a strict biosecurity protocol on our farm. We never share equipment with other turkey farms, and we disinfect our footwear in iodine or chlorine when entering and leaving each house. This is a first line of defense to keep disease from other turkeys away from our farm. To reduce disease challenges and to ensure the best growing environment for our turkeys, we clean all of our barns thoroughly after each flock. We remove the bedding, disinfect each house and all the equipment, then add new bedding for each flock of turkeys.

Animal welfare is very important to all of us at Bar G Ranch. It is the most critical factor that influences animal health. We do everything in our power to reduce stress on the turkeys and cattle in our care. By doing so we make sure our animals have the best chance of maintaining good health and living a good quality of life. As my grandmother used to say “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Truer words have never been spoken because Bar G Ranch believes in prevention rather than treatment. Grandma would be proud of our commitment to animal health.

Darrell Glaser is a farmer and owner of Bar G and Reveille Turkey Farms in Rogers, Texas. He is part of the Faces of Farming and Ranching program for the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance.