Rarely has a program come along that helps ranchers like you improve the value of your cattle through better handling, animal health product usage and overall humane production. Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) provides a means for cattlemen and women to produce and send the safest and highest quality beef to consumers at home and around the world.
And, you can become BQA-certified or recertified – free of charge – through a new partnership between Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc. (BIVI) and BQA (www.BIVI-BQA.com). The $25-$50 certification fee will be covered by BIVI, says Craig Jones, director of BIVI Cattle Professional Services, St. Joseph, MO.
“We are going to cover the cost of producers who wish to become BQA-certified or recertified, which is required every three years,” Jones says. “If producers and feedyard operators have employees, they can also have them certified free with this program.”
Jones emphasizes the importance of BQA to the beef industry. “Production of quality beef and quality product is everybody’s responsibility,” he says. “That’s everyone’s ultimate goal. We at BIVI are excited to be involved with BQA in this vital program.
“It sets up well with what we do in our company-wide Prevention Works platform. Keeping animals healthy and the production of quality beef is the right thing to do for all us involved.”
Customized certification programs
BQA, a Beef Checkoff-funded program, had early emphasis on assuring the real and perceived safety of beef. Today, it has customized programs specific to cow-calf, stocker, feedyard or dairy operations. BQA guidelines point out that these easy-to-use modules teach sound management techniques that producers and feeders can apply to their operation.
Today, BQA programming has expanded with information to help producers implement best management practices (BMP). These BMPs help improve both Quality and Yield grades of beef carcasses.
According to BQA, National Beef Quality Audits have stressed that the number-one leverage point to improve competitiveness, and regain and maintain protein market share is to improve beef quality, uniformity and consistency. BQA helps improve beef tenderness and palatability and reduces excess carcass trim.
“BQA can help producers improve the way they handle and treat cattle for control of health problems,” Jones says. “The way we administer vaccines and the procedures we use for giving dewormers, antibiotics or other animal health products can be enhanced by following BQA guidelines.”
Jones says the humane side of cattle handling is a key area of BQA certification. It helps producers tell their story to consumers, who may not understand the many safety measures cattlemen take in producing the beef served at their dinner table.
“There is more involved in BQA than just handling animal health products properly,” Jones says. “BQA also involves handling animals properly – the way we handle calves during processing, while they’re being raised and during the entire production scheme. That goes a long way toward ensuring quality assurance.”
BQA Senior Director Ryan Ruppert terms BQA as the gold standard of livestock handling and animal welfare programs. BIVI’s support of BQA certification demonstrates the company’s commitment to improving the industry and telling consumers about the sound production practices most cattlemen use every day, Ruppert says.
BQA’s basic goals are to assure consumers that all cattle shipped from a beef production unit are healthy, wholesome and safe; their management has met FDA, USDA and EPA standards; they meet quality requirements throughout the production system; and are produced with environmentally sound production practices. Its basic objectives are:
- Set production standards for quality and safety, which are appropriate to an operation and that can be met or exceeded. Key elements that influence production of defect-free food include biosecurity, animal health and well-being, production performance, and environmental stewardship.
- Establish data retention and recordkeeping systems that satisfy FDA, USDA and EPA guidelines, and help allow for validation of management activities and fulfill program goals.
- Provide hands-on training and education to help participants meet or exceed BQA program guidelines and help realize the benefits of the program.
- Provide technical assistance through BQA program staff, veterinarians, Extension specialists and other qualified individuals working with the BQA program.
Increase efficiency & profitability
By embracing recordkeeping and other parts of the BQA program, certified producers report improvements in efficiency and increased profitability. Feedyards and packers will likely recognize, even more, cattle produced from ranches and farms that carry BQA certification.
“If a ranch or feedyard is certified, it’s evident it’s trying to do things right,” Jones says, “As we move forward in the industry, packers and retailers will likely expect producers to be BQA-certified.”
If you’re interested in taking advantage of this BQA certification opportunity, and have the $25 to $50 fee covered by BIVI, go to BIVI-BQA.com.