Developing a Herd Health Program

Steve Boyles, OSU Beef Extension Specialist

There are Key Practices to Develop a herd health plan that conforms to good veterinary and husbandry practices:

  • Provide disease prevention practices to protect herd health including access to veterinary medical care.
  • Follow all FDA/USDA/EPA guidelines and label directions for each product.
  • Use FDA-approved feed additives including those requiring a veterinary feed directive (VFD) in accordance with label requirements.

The FDA requires all VFD records to be retained for two years and available upon FDA request for inspection. Keep extra-label drug use (ELDU) to a minimum and only when prescribed by a veterinarian working under a Veterinary/Client/Patient Relationship (VCPR). Properly administer products labeled for subcutaneous (SQ) administration in the neck region.

When available, use products approved for SQ, intravenous (IV), intranasal (IN) or oral administration rather than Continue reading

Study Shows Premium in Cattle from BQA Certified Producers

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (July 30, 2019) – While producers have traditionally participated in Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) because it’s the right thing to do, there is sound research that indicates BQA certified producers can benefit financially as well. According to a recent study by the Beef Checkoff-funded BQA program and conducted by Colorado State University (CSU), results show a significant premium for calves and feeder cattle sold through video auction markets.

The research study “Effect of Mentioning BQA in Lot Descriptions of Beef Calves and Feeder Cattle Sold Through Video-based Auctions on Sale Price,” led jointly by CSU’s Departments of Animal Sciences and Agricultural and Resource Economics, was conducted to determine if the sale price of beef calves and feeder cattle marketed through video auction companies was influenced by the mention of BQA in the lot description. Partnering with Western Video Market, CSU reviewed data from 8,815 video lot records of steers (steers, steer calves or weaned steers) and heifers (heifers, heifer calves or weaned heifers) sold in nine western states from 2010 – 2017.

The result was a premium of $16.80/head for cattle that had BQA listed in the lot description. This value was determined by . . .

Read more Study Shows Premium in Cattle from BQA Certified Producers

Cattle Handling and Carcass Value

Steve Boyles, OSU Beef Extension Specialist

Utilization of proper cattle handling is key. It can eliminate carcass bruising and the presence of dark cutters. Although the industry has observed a decrease in the presence of carcass bruising according to the 2016 National Beef Quality Audit results, the “2016 Lost Opportunities in Beef Production” publication indicated that carcass bruising cost the industry approximately $62.15 million. Additionally, the presence of dark cutters cost the beef industry $132 million.

These include the elimination of side and multiple brands, proper cattle handling/transport techniques and facility design, and the elimination of improper IM injections. Proper administration of animal health products, branding only in the shoulder or hip areas, marketing cattle at an optimum time, and reducing stress placed on when handling cattle are just some of the management practices that can Continue reading

BQA Transport Training & Certification

Beginning in 2020, several packers will require BQA Transportation certification of the hauler/drivers delivering cattle to their plants.

By the start of 2020, the major beef cattle processors have requested that any livestock hauler delivering cattle to their facilities be certified in Beef Quality Assurance – Transport (BQAT). Any professional hauler or farmer delivering loads of cattle directly to a processor should plan on attending a BQAT training and certification prior to delivering their first load of cattle in 2020. Much like producer BQA, the goal of the BQAT program is to make sure that cattle transporters are implementing good animal handling and transport practices.

Transportation quality assurance plays a critical role in the Continue reading

Hauling Cattle

Steve Boyles, OSU Beef Extension Specialist

Handle/transport all cattle in such a fashion to minimize stress, injury, and bruising. Use vehicles to transport cattle that provide for the safety of personnel and cattle during loading, transporting, and unloading. Follow these guidelines when transporting your own livestock:

  • Perform a structural check of trailer/truck and tires prior to loading livestock.
  • Inspect trailer/truck for cleanliness (biosecurity) as well as broken gates that may injure/bruise cattle. • Check weather and route to ensure a safe and uneventful trip.
  • Verify withdrawal on any animals being sold.
  • Verify that all animals are fit to ship.
  • Back up squarely and evenly to the loading chute.
  • Load using Low Stress Handling Practices.
  • Pull away from the chute slowly and drive to allow cattle a chance to gain their balance in transit.
  • Minimize time in transit by limiting stops and using prior preparation to ensure an organized event.

This information was Continue reading

BQA: One Year Later

Garth Ruff, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Ohio State University Extension, Henry County (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman summer issue)

Early last year I wrote an article titled Understanding Customer Relations in a Changing Beef Industry, which examined the factors that drove the demand for cattle producers to complete Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training.

Now after a years’ time, with nearly 100 in-person trainings taught, and almost 7,250 Ohio cattle producers BQA certified in-person and another 2,100 online, where do things stand?

As a refresher, the push to have producers trained in BQA was at the request of Tyson, one of the major packers’ decision to only source fed cattle from cattle feeders certified in BQA by 2019. Tyson’s decision was largely due to the commitment of Wendy’s to do the same, at the demand of their customers. As we have seen in all segments of food production the consumer, now more than ever, wants to know how their food is produced. Often in the case of meat, consumers want to be assured that the animal was raised humanely and cared for under good production practices, the basic principles of any livestock quality assurance program.

In 2018, the majority of the producers certified, completed BQA training for the first time. Producer attendance Continue reading

Weaner Cattle Need Their Own Trainer

– Kirsten Nickles MSc and Anthony Parker PhD, The Ohio State University Department of Animal Sciences

The addition of a social facilitator cow seems to reduce the negative walking behaviors associated with weaning.

The most common weaning method in the United States beef industry is the abrupt removal of calves from cows at 5-8 months of age (Enríquez et al., 2011). Natural weaning in beef cattle however, occurs later in life for a calf at 7-14 months of age (Reinhardt and Reinhardt, 1981). The immediate cessation of milk supply and complete maternal separation causes calves to exhibit stereotypical behaviors such as walking and vocalizing at weaning. Calves will engage in these stereotypical behaviors for three to four days and the excessive activity and lack of feed intake result in body weight loss and fatigue (Weary et al., 2008). The anxiety and frustration experienced at weaning by the calf are critical factors that negatively affect the growth rate of the calf and can contribute to the onset of disease such as bovine respiratory disease. This is why we should aim to manage calves in a way that reduces these negative stereotypical weaning behaviors.

The use of a “trainer cow” or “social facilitator” has been proposed as a method to Continue reading

BQA Transportation

Beginning next year, several packers will require BQA Transportation certification of the hauler/drivers delivering cattle to their plants.

Transportation quality assurance plays a critical role in the health and welfare of cattle. The proper handling and transport of cattle can reduce sickness in calves, prevent bruises, and improve the quality of the meat from these animals. By using best practices, transporters can save the beef industry millions of dollars each year. When a transporter participates in the program they are showing consumers they are ready to take every step possible to keep cattle as healthy and safe as possible.

Beginning in 2020, several major packers will require BQA Transportation Continue reading

Grill Smart; Hands-on Learning Great Grilling

The next summer get-together is just around the corner.

Family, friends, or old classmates will be in town.

It’s the perfect time for inviting them over to grill out for dinner . . . or is it?

Few things can satisfy or impress family and friends like the aroma, tenderness, juiciness, and deep rich flavor of a steak or chop grilled to perfection. However, there may not be anything that strikes as much apprehension and fear into the hearts of a dinner host, as that of failing to correctly select, prepare and grill the perfect steak. If you’ve ever struggled with the angst of whether you can pull off that perfect meal and eating experience of dinner originating from your grill, then Continue reading

Bruising and Cattle

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Cattle Specialist

Cattle bruising is an animal well-being concern as well a loss in economic value. When loaded, 60% of cattle are in the middle portion of a trailer, 30% in the rear compartments and 10% in the nose. Cattle rarely change position while a trailer is in motion, and the cattle typically position themselves at right angles to the direction of travel to try to compensate for the trailer movement and focus energies on keeping their balance. Road conditions can have an impact on carcass bruises as well as driver experience. In one study, it was observed that ‘low’ space stocking rates caused lower carcass weights compared to ‘medium’ and ‘high’ space stocking rates. However, the ‘medium’ space stocking rate resulted in the lowest bruising rate; the ‘low’ and ‘high’ space stocking rates had 4 and 2 times greater bruise scores.

Helen Kline (2018, Colorado State) conducted a study in five commercial slaughter facilities, located in multiple regions of the U.S. Individual carcasses were followed through the slaughtering process and were evaluated for bruising, weight of bruised meat and location of bruising. In Kline’s study she found that Continue reading