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Animal & Range Sciences Extension Service
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Doug Steele, Vice Provost & Director
> Department > Home > Beef > Beef/Cattle > BQA
Beef/Cattle Extension Program

Reorganization of the Montana Beef Network....what it means to MBN members and BQA-certified producers

"Producers are reporting that buyers are requesting evidence of BQA training prior to purchasing calves."

From "Beef: Questions & Answers" newsletter*
by John Paterson, MSU Extension Beef Specialist and Steve Pilcher, Executive VP of Montana Stockgrowers Association

Like all organizations, we in the Montana Beef Network are constantly assessing challenges within the system and planning for how we might meet them. This winter, we reorganized the structure of the MBN to offer more service to Montana producers.

The overall goals of the program remain the same:

  1. Beef Quality Assurance Certification
  2. Feeder Calf Certification
  3. Return of Feedlot AND Carcass Results to Producers

Research results are beginning to show that BQA-certified calves return a significant increase in selling price. Dr. Gary Brester from MSU recently showed that BQA cattle were worth approximately $1.59/cwt more than non-certified cattle. Interestingly, his results showed that in order to receive the premium, the producer had to be enrolled in MBN and also had to follow the preconditioning or backgrounding protocols developed by the Stockgrowers Inc. advisory board. Research has shown that following the vaccination protocol combined with good nutrition at weaning significantly reduced calf sickness and improved daily gains. Producers are reporting that buyers are requesting evidence of BQA training prior to purchasing calves.

BQA training has been provided by Extension agents to more than 1,000 producers who have certified more than 50,000 calves during the past three years. Without a doubt, our greatest challenge has been the tracking of cattle and the delivery of growth and carcass information once the calves left the state and were finished in the Midwest or Canada. The return rates of carcass and feedlot information have been too low and unacceptable to us as program managers. It is still our opinion that the beef industry will continue to work diligently to improve data capture, data return and most importantly, interpretation of the results.

We believe that the future success of the MBN will hinge on doing a much better job of tracking and returning data. Because of this challenge, we have partially reorganized the responsibilities of the Network. The biggest change you will see is the involvement of the Montana-based company Frontier Beef to collect and manage data once the animals leave the ranch.

The responsibilities for implementation and delivery of MBN services will be divided according to the following:

Montana Stockgrowers Association

  • Coordinate and deliver the public relations and educational programs including Montana Beef University to livestock producers.
  • Manage and coordinate the livestock industry's involvement in Montana MarketManager, a cooperative program with the Montana Grain Growers Association.

Montana State University

  • Develop and deliver educational materials, including BQA seminars, written materials and interactive educational programs.
  • Develop and distribute passport paperwork for feeder cattle.
  • With the assistance of Extension agents, deliver, install and record calf ear tags in feeder cattle enrolled in the MBN. Transfer recorded data to Frontier Beef.
  • Conduct research that helps identify added value, improved carcass quality and animal health management.

Frontier Beef Systems

  • After ear tag information has been provided by the Extension agent and/or producer, identify and track feeder cattle through the production and processing segments of the livestock industry in order to collect performance and carcass information.
  • Meet with producers, feedyards and processors as needed to develop the information system to collect the desired information.
  • Develop and maintain for MBN a computer-based data collection, delivery and management system for the purpose of managing the data collected for future analyses purposes.
  • Analyze data with producers to help arrive at herd goals.

We are confident that this management model with provide a more effective team in capturing and returning calf performance and carcass data to the producer. If you have questions about this new structure, becoming BQA certified or certifying your feeder cattle, please do not hesitate to contact any of us:

  • John Paterson, Extension Beef Specialist, Montana State University, 406.994.5562
  • Steve Pilcher, Executive Vice President, Montana Stockgrowers Assoc., 406.442.3420
  • Phil Lalich, Frontier Beef, 406.587.1916

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


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