Gaining Greater Market Access for Ohio Feeder Calves

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

The World is expecting a lot more information about the food they buy.”

During the first segment of the Ohio Beef School, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator John Grimes visits with Bill Tom of United Producers, and Henry Zerby from Wendy’s, about the rapidly changing demands in the beef cattle market

Consumers are concerned for animal health, and the sustainability of the production systems their food’s raised in.”

Traceability and transparency are of growing concern to consumers.”

Vaccination is not necessarily the same as immunization when it comes to preventing health issues.”

Feed and bunk management, and avoiding nutritional stress are keys to calf health.”

These are just a few of the comments that will be emphasized, and discussed during this year’s Ohio Beef School presentations. This winter the Ohio Beef School has taken on an exciting new look and is likely coming soon to a County Extension office near you in the form of two 50 minute presentations featuring the authors of the quotes you see above.

Putting even more meaning into the statements above is the fact that Tyson Foods, who harvest and process 25% of the US beef market share, and also Wendy’s, the third largest fast food hamburger chain in this country, have both announced beginning in 2019 cattle they purchase must originate from producers and feedyards who are Beef Quality Assurance certified. Not only do today’s consumers have concerns, but now the businesses who are supplying the public’s demand for a quality beef product raised in a humane and sustainable fashion want some guarantees that it’s happening throughout the production chain. Following the lead set by the pork industry years ago, it’s safe to assume the entire beef industry will soon require BQA certification of it’s producers.

At the same time, with the expansion of the cow herd resulting in increased calf numbers, feeder calf buyers are also being more discriminant. Buyers increasingly demand that calves come with a weaning and health protocol that includes identification, bunk broke, castration, no horns and perhaps most importantly, to be effectively immunized against the ‘shipping fever’ complex of diseases. While not yet a requirement as they come to market, the necessity for a weaning and health protocol is reflected in the bids received by calves that are weaned on the truck in route to market.

Those are a few examples of concerns that will serve as the focus of the discussion you will hear in the two pre-recorded presentations featuring the insight of four different Ohio beef industry leaders. Specifically, participants in the 2018 Beef School will hear from:

Dr. Henry Zerby
Senior Director, Protein – Innovation
Wendy’s Quality Supply Chain Co-op, Inc.

Bill Tom
Executive Vice President, Livestock Marketing
United Producers, Inc.

Dr. Justin Kieffer
Clinical Veterinarian
The Ohio State University

Dr. Francis Fluharty
Research Professor
Department of Animal Sciences
The Ohio State University

In part 2 of the 2018 Ohio Beef School, OSU’s Francis Fluharty and Justin Kieffer discuss how an effective weaning management program enhances quality and allows for greater access to markets for Ohio feeder calves

Beef School and the insight of these experts will be offered this winter via video in a variety of different formats by OSU Extension offices throughout Ohio. The Beef School presentations will be followed by the opportunity for participants to be BQA certified, or re-certified. BQA certifications continue to be effective for 3 years before renewal is required.

Contact your local OSU Extension office or visit the OSU Beef Team EVENTS page for details regarding an opportunity near you to participate in the 2018 Ohio Beef School, “Gaining Greater Market Access for Ohio Feeder Calves” and Beef Quality Assurance certification.