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November 2010 Archive for 100% Grass-Fed

RSS By: Randy Kuhn, Beef Today

Our family farming history began with my great-great-... (nine generations ago) grandfather Johannes. He, his wife and three children left Saxony, Germany, on April 20, 1734, aboard the ship St. Andrew, mastered by Capt. John Stedman. They landed at Philadelphia on Sept. 22 and eventually settled our family’s first "New World" farm near Society Run in Frederick Township, Montgomery County, Pa., in 1743. Pig farming was our family’s specialty until the mid 1950s. A lot has changed since then. Our BQA cow–calf operation includes 100% grass-fed registered Red Angus, Hereford and purebred Beefalo; 30 to 35 pastured Duroc and Spot pigs; 100 Freedom Ranger broilers; and 90 Golden Comet and Buff Orpington layers. We organically maintain 80 acres, comprising 15 acres in rotational pastures, 15 acres in tillable cropland, and alfalfa/mixed grass hay on the balance. We have never used chemical pesticides or herbicides on our pastures or hay fields. We are not a "certified" organic farming operation, but we prefer the natural/organic approach to help promote sustainability.

BQA Part 3

Nov 25, 2010

This is the 3rd installment of 5, focusing on Beef Quality Assurance. 

This week we’ll keep it short and simple.


I don’t think that what is required by the BQA Program is anything that any BEEF producer can’t uphold.  Committing to the BQA way of producing BEEF & Dairy BEEF isn’t going to cost you anything more than what you’re currently doing, In the long run it could actually save you money!

  It’s a way of helping producers to improve the way they handle their cattle from birth to butchering.  The BQA program wasn’t designed to make things harder for producers; it was designed by producers for producers.  It’s mostly common sense. Once you enroll in the program and hear what is expected of producers to be eligible to carry the BQA certification, it’ll all click and you might even ask yourself, why wasn’t I doing this before!?  It’s so much better for my cattle and everyone involved in my cattle operation. 

The BQA Code of Conduct

  • I received training in BQA and use it on my beef cattle enterprise (Farm, Ranch, Feed-lot), because I have a commitment to consumers to produce the safest, highest quality beef in the world.
  • I use BQA production practices because maintaining an optimum environment for cattle to produce at their best promotes efficiency and quality at the same time. BQA training has shown me that keeping records of all my production practices is the best way for me to reduce liability, provide quality assurance to my customers, and continue to ensure a safe beef supply through strict adherence to residue avoidance practices.
  • BQA has taught me to think about all of my production practices in light of their effect on the quality of the final product.
  • BQA is a combination of technology, common sense, a concern for animal well-being, and a consumer oriented production system.

BQA Code of Cattle Care

Beef cattle producers take pride in their responsibility to provide proper care to cattle. The Code of Cattle Care lists general recommendations for care and handling of cattle. 

  • Provide necessary food, water and care to protect the health and well-being of animals.
  • Provide disease prevention practices to protect herd health, including access to veterinary care.
  • Provide facilities that allow safe, humane, and efficient movement and/or restraint of cattle.
  • Use appropriate methods to humanly euthanize terminally sick or injured livestock and dispose of them properly.
  • Provide personnel with training/experience to properly handle and care for cattle.
  • Make timely observations of cattle to ensure basic needs are being met.
  • Minimize stress when transporting cattle.
  • Keep updated on advancements and changes in the industry to make decisions based upon sound production practices and consideration for animal well-being.
       Persons who willfully mistreat animals will not be tolerated.

It's the right thing to do Part 2

Nov 18, 2010

This Blog is Part-2 of 5, which outlines the benefits of implementing the BQA program into your BEEF farming operation.  It’s works on herds of 4 to 4,000.  Even animal rights activists can agree that BQA is a step in the right direction for BEEF producers.  The following is an excerpt from the National BQA outline.

In coming weeks/Blogs, we’ll show you how to incorporate the BQA program into your farming operation.  It’ll improve the welfare of your Cattle and your bottom line.


Because in this Stockman’s opinion…

It’s the right thing to do!

BQA Value-Added Beef

The BQA program's early emphasis was on assuring the real and perceived safety of beef. Gary Smith, Colorado State University Monfort Chair and professor of meat sciences, says BQA programming has been instrumental in building beef demand in the U.S. and elsewhere.
"Measures [in the early 1980s] were successfully designed to discourage inappropriate use . . . of antibiotics," he explains. "This included educating stakeholders about proper use of pharmaceutical products and the honoring of withdrawal times."

But ensuring safe beef products by implementing proper use of pharmaceuticals is only one aspect of the BQA program today.  BQA programs have evolved to include best practices around good record keeping and protecting herd health, which can result in more profits for producers.

"If you look at the measurable losses in [market] cows and bulls from the audits, including losses from bruising and injection sites, we were losing about $70 per animal.  With 4.5 to 5 million head marketed each year, that’s a considerable chunk of money," notes Dr. Dee Griffin, DVM, and associate professor at the University of Nebraska’s Great Plains Veterinary Education Center.

Griffin says that one way BQA can add value at market is by implementing it with older animals as well as with younger fed cattle.  "Many restaurants only buy cuts of meat from ‘A’ maturity cattle.  Each year the U.S. has to import tons of meat to fulfill this age requirement.  It’s not because the age of the animals produces that much of a lower quality product; it’s because the industry does such a good job at managing the younger fed cattle.  There is a tremendous opportunity if we can improve adherence with BQA standards in the older animals.  This goes for application across the industry, including both beef and dairy producers," says Dr. Griffin.

Source referenced: Peck, Clint. "Going Forward with BQA." Beef Magazine. September 1, 2006.


Beef Operations Benefit

BQA does more than just help beef producers capture more value from their market cattle: BQA also reflects a positive public image and instills consumer confidence in the beef industry. When producers implement the best management practices of a BQA program, they assure their market steers, heifers, cows, and bulls are the best they can be. Today, the stakes are even higher because of increased public attention on animal welfare. BQA is valuable to all beef and dairy producers because it:

  • Demonstrates commitment to food safety and quality.
  • Safeguards the public image of the dairy industry.
  • Upholds consumer confidence in valuable beef products.
  • Protects the beef industry from additional and burdensome government regulation.
  • Improves sale value of marketed beef cattle.
  • Enhances herd profitability through better management.

Beef Check-off supported BQA programs bring it all together.  While the BQA Manual provides a framework for program consistency, the states still determine the best programs for their producers.

"Because the beef industry is so diversified, we wanted to allow states the opportunity to provide what is best for their producers.  The BQA Manual is the overarching protocol, providing some consistency across the state programs.  They are good production practices to guarantee the quality of beef products," comments Dr. Dee Griffin, DVM.

Because it's the right thing to do!

Nov 12, 2010

This week’s blog is Part 1 of 6

BQA is about what all of us should be doing to create the safest BEEF possible.
It doesn't matter if you’re a "Grass-based, 100% Grass-fed, Grain-Finished

or Feed-lot producer." 

Because it’s the right thing to do!

Beef Quality Assurance

Beef Quality Assurance is a national program that provides guidelines for beef cattle production.  The program raises consumer confidence through offering proper management techniques and a commitment to quality within every segment of the beef industry. 

Producers have embraced BQA because it is the right thing to do; but they have also gained through increased profitability.  As an educating program, BQA helps producers identify management processes that can be improved.

Guiding Principles

"BQA is a process of figuring out what could go wrong, planning to avoid it – then validating and documenting what you have done. BQA is just part of good business," explains Dee Griffin, DVM, associate professor at the University of Nebraska’s Great Plains Veterinary Education Center. Griffin was among the BQA pioneers, and his words ring true for both beef and dairy producers.  "The BQA Manual is the overarching guideline that provides consistency across the state programs.  It provides good production practices to guarantee the quality of beef products," continues Dr. Griffin.

"BQA is not just about the mechanical part of beef production, like giving vaccines; it is also about the philosophical part, including proper handling and treatment of the animals," says Bill Mies, who served as the technical advisor for the BQA program at its inception. Mies was involved in research concerning beef quality while a professor in beef cattle science at Texas A&M University.

The guiding principles of BQA are based on these core beliefs:

WE BELIEVE production practices affect consumer acceptance of beef.

WE BELIEVE the BQA Program has and must continue to empower beef producers to improve the safety and wholesomeness of beef.

WE BELIEVE these fundamental principles are the fabric of the BQA Program.
Empowering people…because producers can make a difference.
Taking responsibility…because it’s our job, not someone else’s.
Working together…because product safety and wholesomeness is everyone’s business.


Part 2 Next week!

Manuring Hay Fields?

Nov 06, 2010

Manuring Hay Fields?


   We don’t spread manure on any of our fields used for Hay production or pasturing of our animals.  It’s a personal decision that we made years ago simply due to the fact that it doesn’t seem like a healthy option.   Of course there is manure in our pastures that is deposited by the animals while they graze.  But we don not utilize pastures for any haymaking. As far as I know, no one has been able to train their cattle to only "go" in one area, kind of like a Cattle litterbox! 


   I recently read an article in Progressive Forage Grower that spoke about "Johne’s disease" as an increasing problem.  The disease is especially problematic in dairy cattle.  The article took a look at weather or not manure should be applied to forages?   I’m sure most (if not all), of you have heard of Johne’s disease, but do you know how cattle contract the disease?


   Calves under 6 months of age are the most susceptible.  The common route of infection is when these young calves consume colostrum or milk from infected cow’s/heifers that have been on pasture, or that have eaten forages infected with "MAP".


   MAP is Mycobacterium avium paratuberculosis, MAP is what causes "Johne’s disease.  MAP can survive in manure & water for up to ONE YEAR!  

MAP can be reduced by exposure to sunlight, liming, as well as the process of fermentation as when ensiling.  


   Manure should NOT be applied to pastures where calves and young heifers graze during grazing season.  If you don’t have the option of applying your manure on non-animal pasturing or hay production fields, make sure you apply it/top dress it as soon as possible following harvest.  This will allow the sun’s light to kill the bacteria (MAP).   If applying manure  to your hay fields that will be utilized for haylage, be sure to follow good ensiling techniques.   This means making sure the harvested forage is at the proper DMC (dry matter content), when storing in a silo, trench or agbag. 


   For most of us, pasturing is over for the next few months.  If applying manure remember to keep it thin/top dress only.  Especially if your ground is frozen.

Pitch of your fields and run-off is another problem you must consider unless your going to be renovating your hay field in the spring.  Make sure you work "it" (manure), in as soon as possible.  This will help keep the nitrogen in the ground where you ultimately want it and not going up in the air or down into your.  This will also help keep the phosphorus out of your streams too!  Your local watershed Representatives will thank you.

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