Vet’s Voice by Dave Barz: Beef Quality Audit

Here in southeast South Dakota we were treated to a great summer rain. Sunday we had three-plus inches of rain on tasseling corn. This should make some great yields. Most were just completing their second cutting of alfalfa. We have been fortunate to harvest great forage tonnage this year. Hopefully this will help us decrease our cow feed costs this winter.

The National Beef Quality Audit, funded by your checkoff dollars was released recently. I am not one for crunching numbers, but there are a few points I feel are very important.

The most important principle is communication with our client, the consuming public. It is all our responsibility to promote our primary product, beef. We must remember we raise cattle, but sell beef. We must exercise great care in every event or management decision we make to assure the consumer’s satisfaction with our overall animal care in our production schemes.

You must understand what is expected by your consumers. The most important issues for college students, future major consumers, were:

• Local production

• Naturally raised

• Healthful product

• Sodium and trans fats

• Eliminate production problems, ‘Pink Slime’

• Creativeness in convenience and value

Remember most consumers have never seen any aspect of beef production. Transparency and consumer education must be a foundation of promotion.

Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) is as important to producers in the beef complex as well as consumers. We have decreased our incidence of injection site abscesses and trim since the program began. Large feedlots (1000+) have strongly adapted the program (65.5 percent have sent individuals to BQA meetings) while smaller lots (500-999, 44 percent and less than 5-20 percent) indicated less acceptance. Here in South Dakota we have a lot of small feedyards. We need to promote BQA to them. The cow-calf producer must also adopt BQA techniques. This will allow communication between calf producers and yard operators about vaccination, weaning and parasite control. Hopefully with the flow of information to the finisher, the cow-calf producer will receive slaughter and feed yard statistics enabling him to make genetic and management decisions. The BQA has been promoting low stress handling to maximize animal wellness while improving results of management practices (vaccination, AI, etc)

Another requirement is management for meat tenderness. Key factors are:

• Control of breed/genetic inputs

• Utilize feeding systems which enhance meat tenderness

• Judicious use of antibiotic and growth enhancement technologies

• Maintain high levels of animal health

These factors are controlled by every producer from breeding until harvest.

To assure the future of our product we must all promote the quality management practices we utilize, while we communicate with other members of the production complex to improve our product. Your involvement in Stockgrowers, Cattlemans and BQA will assure your voice is heard. All our futures pivot on our involvement in production, education and marketing. You are the most important person in the preservation of the beef industry.