Beef Quality Assurance training slated May 17 in Sterling

BQA becoming standard in beef industry


By Jeff Rice, The Fort Morgan Times (CO)



Sterling Livestock Commission Co. and the Colorado Beef Council will present a beef quality assurance training day later this month.


Producers and their employees who need to become BQA certified are urged to attend the training day May 17, as BQA is rapidly becoming the standard at each level of the beef industry. J.D. Sexton, livestock agent for the Logan County Extension Office, said he foresees a time very soon when Colorado cattle growers will be required to provide BQA certification from the ranch to the processing plant.


"It's partly consumer driven," Sexton said. "There was a time when consumers wanted lean beef, it was all about how healthful beef was for you to eat. Now, they want to know where the animal was raised, what it was fed, and so on."


The movement also is partly driven by the market itself. A beef carcass that doesn't have to have parts discarded because of bruising or medication injection sites is more valuable, Sexton said.


"That's why we tell people to make all injections in the neck," he said. "Injections can cause the quality of the meat to degrade at the injection site, and that meat has to be discarded. If you give an injection right where the t-bone steak is, you've ruined a very valuable cut of meat."


Similarly, bruising can make a cut of meat at best unappealing and, at worst, inedible. According to Temple Grandin, a Colorado State University professor who is renowned for her work in animal welfare, bruising costs the livestock industry $46 million annually, nearly half of that among cattle.


Sexton said the BQA program is aimed at adding value to food animals. And with profit margins in agriculture already razor-thin, every practice that saves money is valuable.


"The Santomasos (owners of Sterling Livestock Commission Co.) are really positive about this because they want their customers to get top dollar for their livestock," Sexton said. "We're trying to provide as many (profitable) opportunities to producers as possible."


The May 17 program will be held at Sterling Livestock Commission Co...