“I’ve been blessed to have cowboys teach me all this stuff,” Dr. Bohlender says. He’s talking about the give and take between veterinarians and their clients, the synergy that produces the proverbial sum greater than its parts.

Especially for young veterinarians, Dr. Bohlender says such an education is priceless. He frets it’s an education future veterinarians may not be as blessed to enjoy. There are fewer producers, for one thing. Those that are left are chasing so many cows per person that there’s little time left to share knowledge.

That’s one of the added benefits of BQA.

“This is one of those things that allows someone who is green coming into the veterinary profession to get started,” Dr. Bohlender says. “It provides a nucleus for everything you want to do in practice. It’s an excellent base for a practice to educate clients. It grows your practice by helping you share as much information with clients as you think they can assimilate.”

Finally, as long as cattle require medical treatment, the job of BQA will never be finished.

“We’ll never be done with it. It’s always moving. There will always be something else to work on,” Dr. Bohlender says.

For all of the success spawned by BQA, the industry’s latest audit reveals there is plenty of work left to do. For instance, although nearly 90% of producer respondents to the latest NBQA said they had a working relationship with their veterinarian, more than 25% said they would use medications off-label without being directed by their veterinarian.

“We have to recognize there is a continual turnover in the people we’re dealing with,” Dr. Bohlender says. “It’s critical that veterinarians are well-versed in BQA. The more veterinarians can show their clients that this kind of management increases returns to them, the more they want to do.”

A statement made by noted meat scientist Gary Smith in the inaugural 1991 NBQA and mentioned in the latest NBQA summary merits repetition, pondering and action by veterinarians and their clients:

“…for years the beef business and remaining producers have survived by shrinking total per capita beef supplies enough to command prices that cover average costs. Survival and profitability in the future will depend on supplying the kinds of products which today’s consumers demand and doing it still more efficiently than in the past. The individuals who effectively initiate needed changes will be those who profit the most.”

Barriers to Progress Identified in the 2011 NBQA Executive Summary

  • Low level of written protocols
  • Balancing needs of all industry segments
  • Lack of trust between industry segments
  • Disconnect with dairy
  • Carcass inconsistency
  • No common language
  • Potential food safety issues
  • Poor storytelling