Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) is a nationally coordinated, state implemented program which couples scientific knowledge and common sense husbandry to raise cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions. In Wisconsin, the BQA program can be completed via online modules or in-person training by a certified instructor. After successful completion of the program, certification is valid for three years. No matter which option you may choose, the program typically takes about three to four hours to complete. In years past, becoming certified would cost a small fee. As of early 2017, the program is free to everyone, all the time.
The program covers vital information for producers to practice judiciously such as antibiotic stewardship, record keeping practices, animal handling techniques and much more. All of the qualities taught through the BQA program run parallel with increased quality of product and profitability. Not only can implementing these practices on the f
arm increase profit margins for producers, it is our responsibility as stockmen to take care of our animals and treat them with care.
As we all know, consumers are extremely concerned with how we raise our animals and what that means for the quality of product they feed their families. Luckily, BQA is a tool we can use to help instill confidence within the consumer population. When a better quality product reaches the shelves at the supermarket, consumers are confident in their purchase. When a consumer feel confident in their purchase, they are going to continue to buy it. Thus, an increase in beef consumption.
On June 7th and 8th, I attended the Beef Quality Assurance Spring Meeting in Denver,
Colorado. Many different topics pertaining to BQA were discussed and I am excited to relay a positive report back to the hardworking stockman of Wisconsin’s beef industry.
Tuesday started with a fantastic presentation from Dr. Temple Grandin of Colorado State University. Dr. Grandin has written various books since her career start in the 1970’s pertaining to animal handling and welfare across all species of livestock. Some of the many topics she shared with us included diagnosing heat stress this summer, transportation issues which are beginning to arise and how important it is to properly vaccinate and treat sick animals to maintain a high quality product. At the end of her presentation, Dr. Grandin sent us home with four take home messages:
1. We must vaccinate properly to prepare our calves for the stressful time-period of weaning. It is our responsibility to keep our calves in excellent health, even if they are being sold and medicine is expensive.
2. Proper record keeping of animal health and implementing all employee trainings is a vital piece to the success of our operations.
3. Superior management will be the most sufficient solution in combating social media. There are too many videos on the internet of animals being mistreated. Properly manage your facility and employees to make absolutely sure those actions never take place under any circumstance.
4. Stockmanship is absolutely top priority before anything else. It is our responsibility to provide care for our animals and treat them with respect. People who like animals and treat them well, reap higher production and increased profit margins.
The remainder of the meeting was spent congratulating the recent accomplishments in the BQA program with a positive message to bring home to Wisconsin. Keep doing what you are doing, Wisconsin! Consumers attitudes are molding, research and implementation are reaping
results. Keep up the great work! The 2016 audit will be discussed at the summer meeting.
Excellent beef quality is everyone’s responsibility! Not just the stockers, not just the feedlot operators. Quality stockmanship starts when the calf hits the ground and continues over the entire lifespan of the animal. It is our duty as Wisconsin beef producers to care after our animals and provide consumers with a wholesome and nutritious meal for their family as well as ours. For more information about Wisconsin’s Beef Quality Assurance Program or the spring meeting, contact Jayde Farbo at firstname.lastname@example.org.