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59717-2900
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Doug Steele, Vice Provost & Director
406-994-6647
> Department > Home > Beef > Beef/Cattle > BQA
Beef/Cattle Extension Program

How management practices compare: Montana Beef Quality Assurance-certified producers and non-certified producers, Part 1

"...the following tables show where the respondants were from within the state and the type of beef cattle operations that were represented.."

By L.M. Duffey, J.A. Paterson, J.E. Peterson, M. King, W.T. Choat and K. Rolfe., Montana State University, Bozeman

We conducted a survey in August 2003 to determine record keeping, health management, marketing strategies, and perceptions of the industry issues by Montana beef producers. The 38-question survey was mailed to 1,000 beef producers: 500 Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certified producers and 500 producers who were not BQA (non-BQA) certified. The BQA certified producers were those who successfully completed the Montana BQA certification program administered by MSU Extension. The non BQA-certified producers were selected from the Beef:Questions and Answers newsletter mailing list. Each group was balanced for region of the state using the six Montana tourism regions.

Response rate to the survey.

Item
BQA- certified
Non BQA- certified
Number of surveys mailed
500
500
Number of surveys returned
231
116
% of surveys returned
46
23

The rate of survey return was high, and the following tables show where the respondants were from within the state and the type of beef cattle operations that were represented.

Indicate what area of the state your operation is in.

Region of the state surveyed Rate of survey return
BQA
Non-BQA
Glacier Country (Glacier, Flathead, Lincoln, Sanders, Mineral, Missoula, Lake, Ravalli)
10%
14%
Russell Country (Toole, Pondera, Teton, Cascade, Liberty, Hill, Blaine, Chouteau, Fergus, Petroleum, Meagher, Wheatland, Judith Basin)
33%
24%
Missouri River Country (Phillips, Valley, Daniels, Sheridan, Richland, McCone, Garfield, Roosevelt)
13%
10%
Gold West Country (Madison, Beaverhead, Deer Lodge, Lewis and Clark, Silver Bow, Powell, Jefferson, Broadwater, Granite)
8%
10%
Yellowstone Country (Stillwater, Carbon, Park, Sweet Grass, Gallatin)
17%
9%
Custer Country (Dawson, Wibaux, Fallon, Carter, Powder River, Custer, Prairie, Rosebud, Big Horn, Treasure, Yellowstone, Golden Valley, Musselshell)
16%
21%

As expected, most of the respondents indicated that their primary type of beef cattle operation was cow-calf followed by cow-calf with backgrounding.

Indicate the nature of your operation (mark all that apply)

Type of operation
BQA
Non-BQA
Cow-calf only
82%
70%
Cow-calf Background
20%
22%
Cow-calf Background - Finish
3%
4%
Other:
10%
10%

Other Responses: registered cattle, yearlings on grass, seedstock, run steers from 6/1-10/1, commercial bred females.

We asked several questions about recordkeeping.

How do you identify your animals? (mark all that apply)

Questions and Ranking

BQA- certified
%

Non-BQA -certified
%
Significantly different? (P<.05)
Plastic ear tag
92
78
Yes
Hot iron brand
80
65
No
Ear tattoo
21
12
Yes
Ear notch
13
16
No
Freeze brand
10
9
No
Metal ear tag
8
7
No
Electronic ear tag
11
2
Yes
Animals are not identified by these methods*
12
29
No

Other identification methods listed were: Brisket tags, waddle on jaw, individual names for the cattle, physical description of cows.

What types of records do you keep?

Questions and Ranking
BQA-certified
%
Non-BQA -certified
%
Significantly different? (P<.05)
Animal number and description
86
69
Yes
Vaccination records
84
59
Yes
Calf birth records
78
65
Yes
Animal purchases and sales
77
66
Yes
Cowherd records
74
49
Yes
Animal suppliers and buyers
43
29
Yes
BQA program records
45
4
Yes
Feed records
39
25
Yes
I do not keep records
3
8
No
Other methods*
6
4
--

Among the "other" methods were: Water records, Registration certificates, Information kept in my head, AHIR records, Sires used, Illnesses and death loss.

In what format do you keep your records?

Questions and Ranking
BQA- certified, %
Non-BQA -certified, %
Significantly different? (P<.05)
IRM Red Book 28 21 No
28
21
No
Other "paper" format 65 59 No
65
59
No
On farm electronic management system* 20 9
20
9
Off farm electronic management system
2
3
No

*Examples of "On farm" management systems listed included: Excel spread sheet, Cow Sense, Cattle Pro, Cow Trax, AIMS, Access database, My own system developed at the ranch, 123, Herd Track, Red Wing Cow/calf.

In general, results suggested that BQA-certified producers kept more (P<0.05) records (cowherd inventory, description, calf birth weights, vaccination, feed) than non-BQA producers.

Results to the record-keeping question were somewhat surprising. We expected that the main format for keeping records would be the IRM Red Book. However, this method ranked well behind paper record keeping methods (avg 25% IRM vs other "paper" format).

Montana ranchers indicated that they are keeping their ranch records for more than two years. More BQA certified ranches kept the records for this of time than did the non BQA-certified ranches

How long do you keep your records?

Questions and Ranking
BQA- certified, %
Non-BQA -certified, %
Significantly different? (P<.05)
More than two years after birth or sale
84
70
Yes
Two years after birth or sale
5
5
No
One year after birth or sale
4
3
No
Until sale
4
4
No
Do not save records
0
2
No
No answer
3
16
--

If you are interested in becoming BQA certified, please Lisa Duffey, BQA Coordinator, Montana State University at 994-5562.

Beef: Questions & Answers is a joint project between MSU Extension and the Montana Beef Council. This column informs producers about current consumer education, promotion and research projects funded through the $1 per head checkoff. For more information, contact the Montana Beef Council at (406) 442-5111 or at beefcncl@mt.net

View Text-only Version Text-only Updated: 08/14/2009
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