There is little doubt that the industry’s efforts to advance the cause of Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) has resulted in higher-quality beef for consumers. But how widely are BQA principles adopted, particularly by cattle feeders?

To find out, USDA’s National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) conducted its Feedlot 2011 survey and asked cattle feeders, among other things, how familiar they are with the BQA program. Overall, the results were positive.

Operators on 52.4% of feedlots with a capacity between 1,000 and 7,999 head were very familiar with the program and 39.5% were somewhat familiar. Of feedlots 8,000 head or larger, 69.4% reported being very familiar and 29.2% said they were somewhat familiar with BQA. On the other end of the spectrum, 4.6% of the 1,000-7,999 feedlots weren’t familiar with BQA and 3.5% had heard of it in name only. Among the larger operations, only 0.3% weren’t familiar with BQA and 1.1% said they had heard of it in name only.

However, when asked to rank a list of specific BQA practices in importance, a large majority of all the feedlots surveyed indicated they considered the practices either very or somewhat important (Figure 1). More than 70% of feedlots from 1,000 to 7,999 head had formal training programs in place for at least one BQA principle, while 96.1% of the larger feedlots had formal BQA training protocol in place.

“These data suggest that feedlot operators, regardless of feedlot capacity, are aware of BQA programs and believe the programs are an important aspect of running an operation,” NAHMS says in a report of its findings. “Continuing outreach through training programs, seminars and other methods is important to maintain and advance support for the BQA program.”

For more information on the NAHMS Feedlot 2011 survey, go to http://nahms.aphis.usda.gov/feedlot.