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

What Is Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) And How Does It Impact Me As A Cow Calf Producer?

"BQA is much more than ensuring injections are administered properly and in the right location.."

By Standley, Kelsey Rolfe, Jennifer Olson, Matt Vogel and John Paterson

A cooperative program developed by the Montana Stockgrower's and Montana State University Extension is called the Montana Beef Network.  This program has three objectives: 1) beef quality assurance (BQA) training of beef producers; 2) feeder calf certification documenting health and management practices and 3) the return of data from the packing plant to determine how well the carcass met customer expectations.  The aim of this beef update is to review why BQA is necessary in today's environment.

BQA is much more than ensuring injections are administered properly and in the right location (neck region).  According to Dr. Bill Meis from Future Beef "The concept of quality management starts with the design of the product, such as genetics, and continues through the marketing of the final product.  In the cow-calf industry, the producers must first design the genetics with both the final consumer as well as the rest of the industry in mind".  This means that implants, injections, brands and body composition are all keys to producing a high quality product.

                                    Beef Quality Assurance Standards

Injectable Animal Health Products
  • Administer in the neck region
  • Administer in the neck only all products labeled for IM use.
  • Administer no more than 10 cc of product per injection site

Feed Additives and Medications

  • Use only FDA-approved medicated feed additives in rations
  • Extra-label use of feed additives is illegal and strictly prohibited
  • Keep records a minimum of two years
  • The owner will assure that all additives are withdrawn at the proper time to avoid violative residues
  • Analyze suspect feedstuffs prior to use
  • Do not feed ruminant derived meat and bone meal supplements
  • If you suspect contamination from molds, mycotoxins and chemicals, have the feedstuffs analyzed prior to feeding

Care and Husbandry Practices

  • Handle and transport cattle in such a fashion to minimize stress, injury and bruising
  • Keep feed and water handling equipment clean
  • Evaluate your biosecurity
  • Regularly inspect your facilities to ensure proper care and ease of handling

Source: Eric Grant, 10/2001

Why was the Montana Beef Network started? One of the driving factors was to help producers determine the type cattle they were producing in terms of carcass value and to help them position their marketing decisions in the future armed with data from the packing plant.   Dr. Clem Ward believes that the market could more accurately reflect consumer demands if grids were based on wholesale or retain beef.  A better market would have less emphasis on pounds but a direct correlation between quality and values.  What if Dr. Ward is correct?  If he is, then producers will have to learn more about the cattle they raise.  Questions that need answers will include:

  • Do you know how your cattle perform in the feedlot?
  • Do you know how your cattle perform in the packing plant?

Armed with data you will be able to target a grid with a rifle and not a shotgun (Stovall, 2001). Quality is the U.S. producers biggest advantage.  If your goal is to be a low cost producer, you are going to lose on a world market because other countries costs are much lower than ours (Hands, Triangle H Grain and Cattle Co. Garden City, KS).  According to Dr. Gary Smith, "There is no silver bullet in the things we do; the key is to do a whole lot of little things right" (Stovall, 2001).

Sources of Information:

  • Grant, E. 2001.  The narrow window. Angus Beef Business, October, 2001
  • Stovall, T. 2001. Consumers and profitability. Angus Beef Business, 2001


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