We don’t spend a lot of time treating sick cattle,” says Tom Furman, DVM, a partner with his father, Jim, in The Animal Center at Alliance, Neb. “We spend most of our time with clients preventing sickness in cattle.”

“I can teach anyone to do a C-section,” explains Dee Griffin, DVM, University of Nebraska Feedlot Production Management Veterinarian at the Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center (GPVEC) at Clay Center, Neb. “What’s more important is helping ranchers make the management decisions that prevent the need for a C-section. Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) has always been about thoughtful, responsible cattle management.”

These statements go a long way in describing the evolution of the industry’s BQA program, and some would say the changing role of veterinarians themselves.

“What became obvious early on in the development of BQA is that if animals never get sick they are less apt to have a drug residue from medicine, an abscess from an injection site blemish, and there’s no potential for the physical defect of a broken needle,” Dr. Griffin explains.

A Closer Look: BQA & Animal Welfare: A Good Fit For Veterinarians

So, a program that began mostly as a means to ensure avoidance of drug residues embraced how to avoid product defects like injection site blemishes.

By the early 1990s, Dr. Griffin says the focus shone brighter on cow health as a way to improve calf health, which set the stage for development of calf preconditioning programs.

“People like Bud Williams, Temple Grandin and Tom Noffsinger demonstrated the interaction between cattle handling, cattle stress and cattle health,” Dr. Griffin says. “So, the issue of animal handling became foremost.”


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Next came development of animal care guidelines developed for the industry through an effort headed by consulting veterinarian Bob Smith in 1996. Dr. Griffin explains cattle care became the central BQA issue.

“So, vets have taken on a different role,” Dr. Griffin says. “They are still charged with fixing health problems. When it comes to BQA, preventing product defects is still part of the job. But, the role today is more interactive with clients and more proactive in identifying potential problems and how to prevent them.”