How Do We Make Decisions?

By: Scott MacGregor, DVM

I regard myself as a scientist when making decisions. I prefer to have data from field studies to help come to conclusions. However, sometimes there is no data on given subjects.

Healthy cattle resting in a Texas feedyard.

Healthy cattle resting in a Texas feedyard.

What do you do then?  Well, I also regard myself as a “field guy,” not an office or laboratory guy. This means that I have 40 years of interacting with people who have a lot of common sense. I have spent my career as a feed yard, consulting veterinarian. I work with cowboys and cowgirls most of my day, and time is also taken with owners and managers of feedlots. I have also spent most of my career conducting large field trials to help answer the questions we have, in the areas of health, production, performance and most of all animal well being. I love my job!

What I am getting at is that there needs to be a balance of science and data and common sense.

Tools that everyone in our feed yards and ranches today possess are sensitive powers of observation. They are really good at it! It’s also a great way to start the process of making a good decision. What do we see that tells us if things are working right at the individual animal level?

Here is another truth, when considering making food animal decisions in the future: science tells us what we can do and the consumer will tell us what we should do. This is a critical point when we think about providing safe, healthy, and sustainable food, to the consumer. This is where the buck stops!

So what’s the take away?  We will have to make our decisions balanced between science, common sense, what’s best for the animals and consumer wants and needs.