Several beef packers have announced recently that they will be requiring Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certification from their suppliers of fed cattle. That was not news to most cattle feeders, as most commercial feedlots are already BQA certified. The packers indicate the initiative is driven by retailers and consumers. The BQA program has been in place for many years, so it seems logical that the beef packers chose a certification program that was already established and is known across the cattle industry as the standard for producing cattle that will meet quality and safety expectations. Beef Quality Assurance is a nationally coordinated, state implemented program that provides information to U.S. beef producers and beef consumers of how common-sense production techniques can be coupled with accepted scientific knowledge to raise cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions.
While BQA certification is voluntary for cow/calf producers and stocker cattle operators, it is often just good business. Good management practices are the core of the Beef Quality Assurance program, and often add value to cattle as they progress through the marketing channels. The Oklahoma Quality Beef Network value added program has documented that calves following a vac-45 type of preconditioning program will generally sell at a premium to non-preconditioned calves. We would expect that cattle handled and transported in a low stress manner will shrink less. The potential for bruising and injuries will also be reduced.
Cattle producers and industry personnel can become BQA certified in Oklahoma by in-person training, or on-line at BQA.org. Some producers use BQA as a training program for new employees. It is a method to introduce new hires to industry accepted best management practices as well as expectations for cattle management and handling principles. Additional information regarding BQA certification can be found at http://www.beef.okstate.edu/ or the Oklahoma Beef Council website https://www.bqa.org/ . For in-person training opportunities, contact your local OSU Extension Office.