Case Study: A Systems Analysis of Cattle Morbidity in a Niche Market Beef Cooperative
AbstractCountry Natural Beef (CNB) is a rancher-owned, niche market beef cooperative. In fall 2008, CNB experienced an increase in cattle morbidity at the feedlot. With a reduced number of animals qualifying for the CNB program, the possibility of being unable to meet customer demand became a critical concern. Consequently, CNB proactively initiated an internal investigation to identify the underlying reasons and key risk factors that contributed to the increase in morbidity. An analysis was conducted to determine size and scope of the problem, identify key risk factors, and provide recommendations for supply chain improvement. A sample of 42 CNB member ranchers, CNB employees, and personnel from the feedlot where CNB cattle are finished were interviewed to provide a better understanding of the ranchers' behavior, production chain structures, management protocols, and company policies. Recommendations to reduce morbidity rates included: (1) background all cattle, (2) institute internal process controls to include auditing the accounts at regular intervals, and (3) amend the policies that allow the shift in financial responsibility of morbidity from individual ranchers to the organization as a whole. Implementing these recommendations should minimize feedlot morbidity in the CNB program and make the program more viable in the marketplace by reducing fluctuations in supply. Similar niche beef production programs should consider their entire production chain in order to maintain a balance between the demand and supply and minimize the cost of production.
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