Paul Vining, Oklahoma State University State Extension OQBN Coordinator
Oklahoma Quality Beef Network (OQBN) Vac-45 sales recently wrapped up with the final winter sale held on February 7th at McAlester Livestock Auction. I would like to express my gratitude to the Oklahoma State University Extension Specialists, Area Livestock Educators, and County Educators that make this program a continued success. Oklahoma’s cow-calf producers persevered through many challenges in 2022. Raising cattle during prolonged drought conditions while contending with exorbitant feed and fertilizer costs is difficult, requiring determination and deserving admiration. The livestock auction facilities that held OQBN Vac-45 sanctioned sales have been top-notch hosts. Even with drought and elevated input costs over 3,200 calves from 61 different ranches were enrolled in the OQBN Vac-45 Program, matching last year’s participation. A memorable highlight was Leflore County Stockyard in Wister, OK holding its first OQBN-sanctioned sale in December and selling over 800 OQBN calves. I would like to offer a sincere “thank you” to all involved with the program, and I look forward to future program growth and success.
For calves to be eligible to participate in the OQBN Vac-45 Program calves must be, castrated, dehorned, and weaned for a minimum of 45 days prior to the date of sale. Calves must be vaccinated twice against respiratory (BRD) pathogens, and twice against clostridial bacteria (blackleg vaccinations) prior to sale. While many beef calf preconditioning programs are available, the OQBN Vac-45 and a few other programs have the unique requirement of third-party verification. Following program enrollment, an extension educator will conduct a ranch visit and verify that calves meet the necessary requirements to participate in an OQBN-sanctioned sale. This extra step in the preconditioning process provides ranchers and buyers with added confidence that OQBN calves will remain healthy upon entering the next phase of the beef supply chain.
On average calves participating in OQBN sales received premiums over similar non-preconditioned calves selling in the same sale. Recent sale data is being analyzed and overall premiums for OQBN calves sold in the past sale season (2022-2023) should be available soon. Past sale data compiled by Oklahoma State University Extension Professionals from 2011 to 2021 indicated an average market premium of $12.55/cwt for OQBN calves compared to similar non-preconditioned calves selling in the same sales. We expect this trend to continue for the foreseeable future, due to the continued demand for preconditioned beef calves.
Dr. Mark Johnson talks about preconditioning and adding value to calves on SunUp TV from July 3, 2021 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WprPp69FvKI and July 10, 2021 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZILQHZVjCwk