Bob LeValley, Oklahoma Beef Quality Assurance Coordinator
One aspect of “quality” is providing products that meet or exceed expectations and established requirements. Established product requirements in the beef industry may differ somewhat from one segment of the industry to the next, but there are some common expectations fundamental to each.
The commercial cow/calf operator sells weaned calves, cull cows and bulls. Weaned calves should possess performance, health and potential carcass characteristics that satisfy stocker operators and cattle feeders, while meeting food safety requirements. Culled breeding stock must meet the food safety and carcass characteristic requirement of market cow and market bull processors.
As products of stocker operations, feeder cattle should meet the requirements of cattle feeders for performance, health, potential carcass characteristics and food safety. Fed cattle must meet the expectations of beef processors for health, carcass attributes and food safety. Commodity beef products must meet requirements of beef purveyors for fat cover, marbling, carcass size, safety, and lack of defects such as injection site blemishes, dark cutters, etc. Beef sold to the consumer, must meet expectations for both food safety and eating satisfaction.
The common theme is that quality in the beef industry includes and goes well beyond food safety. Animal performance, health, carcass characteristics and eating satisfaction, are often the result of various and cumulative management decisions, many of which go all the way back to the cow/calf operation.
The Beef Quality Assurance program focuses on many of the “quality” factors that producers will influence in each production segment of the industry. By doing so, it helps to assure consumers that cattle shipped from a beef production unit are healthy, wholesome, and safe. To become a BQA certified producer, complete the on-line certification program at www.BQA.org or contact your OSU Extension educator, or the Oklahoma Beef Council for information on an in-person certification program near you.