“Initially, BQA was primarily about putting injections in the right location. Now it has become more about assuring a quality product in every aspect of beef production,” Dr. Hill says. “Now, record keeping isn’t just about withdrawal times and proper vaccinations, it’s about documenting everything from animal handling to necropsy technique. It has become a much more holistic approach to quality assurance.” Though Dr. Hill’s practice focuses primarily on feedlots, he also serves large stocker and cow-calf clients.

BEEF Video: The Changing Face Of Beef Quality Assurance

“BQA has long had this principle that it’s cheaper to prevent a problem than it is to fix it. Figure out what can go wrong, how to avoid it and then document what you have accomplished,” Dr. Griffin says. “That’s kind of the process grandmother used to check her canning and keep her family from getting sick.”

As much as anything, Dr. Hill says BQA continues to make producers more aware of the quality production process, the components and interactions involved.

Dave Nichols of Nichols Farms, a legendary seedstock producer and industry thinker at Bridgewater, Iowa, shares a colorful example.

“When the BQA program was first taking hold, I was using it; we had a poster up in our processing area telling us where we were supposed to give injections. But, we didn’t take it as seriously as we should.” Think here of taking a stab at vaccinating a steer that slipped by the head gate, rather than reloading him.

Then Nichols attended an industry luncheon held for the media in Iowa. He was sitting next to an animal science extension educator. They were served steaks, of course.

“He cut into his steak, looked stricken and fell back in his chair,” Nichols remembers of his tablemate. “I really thought he must be having a heart attack or something.”

As it turns out, the gentleman had cut square into a large abscess, the puss, the odor, all of the rest.

“If that had happened to one of the media people, the state of Iowa could have lost an untold amount of money in ten seconds,” Nichols says. “Until then, I’d never seen an abscess in cooked meat. I went home and told our people if I caught anyone giving an injection anyplace other than the neck I’d find an abscess and make them eat it.”

Fortunately, that never became necessary.

“I think BQA is a case where producers, veterinarians and consumers all learned about it at the same time and we continue to learn about it at the same time,” Nichols says.

“As producers become more aware of BQA importance, they seek resources to become more proficient,” Dr. Hill says.

BQA, of course, offers a number of tools, be it online training, assessments for each production sector or the opportunity to work more closely with their veterinarian to trade ideas and consider possibilities.

“For most of our clients BQA becomes integrated into their standard operating procedures. Some incorporate it into their Process Verified Programs (PVPs),” Dr. Hill says. “I think every veterinarian who wants to be involved with beef producers at any level should become a certified BQA trainer. It’s very easy to do.”

“I think vets should first of all set the example for BQA and be prepared to counsel their clients on why it’s so important,” Nichols says.