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January 2012 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.


Jan 26, 2012

This week is part 4 of 5 in a series as we take a look at BQA

Beef Quality Assurance

BQA can help make a positive public perception of your cattle operation

and the BEEF industry as a whole.

We raise our 100% Grass-fed BEEFALO by following the guidelines set forth below,

even though allot of the following is not part of our practices Ex. "Medicated Feeds & Additives".


Raising your Cattle strictly on grass & hay will make following the BQA guidelines easier for you as a producer not to mention it’s healthier for your cattle & allot more economical for your operation!

Feed Additives and Medications

  • Only FDA approved medicated feed additives will be used in rations.
  • Medicated feed additives will be used in accordance with the FDA Good Manufacturing
  • Practices (GMP) regulation.
  • Follow 'Judicious Antibiotic Use Guidelines'.
  • Extra-label use of feed additives is illegal and strictly prohibited.
  • To avoid violative residues: withdrawal times must be strictly adhered to.
  • Where applicable, complete records must be kept when formulating or feeding medicated feed rations.
  • Records are to be kept a minimum of two years.
  • The producer will assure that all additives are withdrawn at the proper time to avoid violative residues.


  • Maintain records of any pesticide/herbicide use on pasture or crops that could potentially lead to violative residues in grazing cattle or feedlot cattle.
  • Adequate quality control program(s) are in place for incoming feedstuffs. Program(s) should be designed to eliminate contamination from molds, mycotoxins or chemicals of incoming feed ingredients. Supplier assurance of feed ingredient quality is recommended.
  • Suspect feedstuffs should be analyzed prior to use.
  • Ruminant-derived protein sources cannot be fed per FDA regulations.
  • Feeding by-product ingredients such as DDG should be supported with sound science.
  • I hope to see those of you in the North East at this weekends "Winter Green-Up" conference hosted by Cornell Co-Operative Extension in Latham, NY.  Greg Judy (The Godfather of MOB Grazing), will be our keynote speaker on Saturday.  If he’s going to be there, don’t you think you should be too?

BQA part 2 of 5

Jan 20, 2012

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.

Beef Quality Assurance, Part 1

Jan 16, 2012

As we begin yet another new year,

it’s time to once again review what we should all be doing

to create the safest beef possible.

It doesn't matter if you’re a grass-based, 100% grass-fed,

grain-finished or feedlot producer.  

This is the first installment of five focusing on BQA


What is BQA?

BQA is Beef Quality Assurance. It’s 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. 

Beef producers have embraced BQA because it is the right thing to do;  It’s an educating program, that helps Beef producers identify management processes that can be improved on their farm’s & ranches that will refine or hone the way they handle their cattle.

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.


Vaccinations or Probiotics?

Jan 05, 2012

Vaccinations or probiotics?

When using or planning to use vaccines for your animals, it is important to first know what you're vaccinating for. Storing vaccines is of upmost importance also. All vaccines must be kept cool, not frozen.

Third, make sure the vaccines you're using are not expired. And last but definitely not least, always use a new needle/syringe for each animal. If vaccinating cattle, make sure that you utilize a "killed" virus for pregnant animals or animals thought to be pregnant. And a "live" or "modified" vaccine for your open cattle. Be sure to consult your vet or at the very least the label for the recommended therapeutic dosage -- expressed in milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) of live body weight and length of time between initial vaccination and a possible booster shot -- to make sure your animals get the full effect and usefulness of the vaccine.  

In live swine vaccines, the organism has usually been attenuated, which means its virulence has been reduced; so, although it will multiply in the pig, it will not normally cause any disease. Examples are the PRRS vaccine, Aujeszky's disease vaccines and classical swine fever vaccines.  Live attenuated vaccines have the advantage that, because they multiply in the pig, they give a bigger antigenic stimulus, resulting in stronger, longer-lasting immunity. They have the disadvantage that they may die in wrong storage conditions (e.g., heat) or during dosing (e.g., by exposure to antiseptics or disinfectants) and are then useless.

If you have a "closed herd" or flock, which means your animals are bred, born and live their entire lives on your farm or ranch until harvesttime, many of the diseases that vaccines are produced for most likely won’t be needed. If, on the other hand, you buy animals at auction or show animals at fairs and other large gatherings of animals from who knows where, you’d better vaccinate and quarantine those animals when they are brought to your operation. Another reason for vaccinating your animals might be if your neighbors have the same kind of animals and have had problems of their own, such as pinkeye, which can be spread well past property lines and across large open areas.

The first requirement of good animal management is to prevent the buildup of infection through the cleaning and disinfection of buildings, maintaining low stocking densities and good outdoor environments. Reducing stress through the effects of fluctuating temperatures and the influences of humidity and ventilation on organisms in the air is the second requirement. The third requirement is the provision of good nutrition. 

Restrain 'em safely

When you make the decision to vaccinate your animals, the next step is figuring out how to restrain them so you can safely administer the vaccine. Everyone has their own way of doing things on their operation, but in our opinion you can’t go wrong with a squeeze chute for cattle and hogs. It’ll save you a lot of time and it’s the safest way to vaccinate your animals.  

Once you have them safely secured, be sure you have the right vaccine going in the right place!  Some are specified to be administered just under the skin (subcutaneously) or directly into the muscle (intramuscular). We prefer the subcutaneous administration because it’s less invasive for the animals.

Where to vaccinate them

Always inject cattle in the triangle-shaped area of the side of their neck, just in front of the shoulder area. Move as much hair out of the way. Do not use an alcohol swab or pad; it can completely kill the vaccine when the needle goes through the treated area into the injection site.  Than pull or pinch an area of the skin to a raised position and inject down the length of the raised area between your fingers on an almost level angle so as to go just below the skin but ensuring there is enough of the needle through the skin so the vaccine doesn’t come back out of the injection site. When vaccinating pigs, the ideal site is behind and on the level of the base of the ear, using a 25mm needle at a 45° angle. 


If you inoculate yourself accidentally, you should take the follow actions:

*  Look at the label on the bottle. Does it give any emergency procedures?

*  Read the leaflet or data sheets held on the farm -- for example, in the UK, Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Safety Regulations. If these are not available, call your veterinarian or family physician.

*  If you are using an oil-based vaccine (see the bottle label), go to a hospital immediately with the bottle. Such vaccines can cause blood vessels to go into spasm, with potential loss of blood supply and consequent loss of tissue (e.g., a finger). The tissues usually require opening up and the injection flushing out. 

Leftovers and proper disposal

Empty bottles - These should be placed into a plastic bag and disposed of within the local authority guidelines or rules.

Syringes - Needles must always be removed from the syringe, and the syringes placed in polythene bags marked "Syringes Only" and incinerated.

Needles and needle sheaths - These should be placed into a sharps box to be taken away for incineration. A sharps box is a very strong polythene box with an automatically closing lid where the needles can be dropped through and retained safely. It is good practice to cut the tip off the needles so that they cannot be misused. Simple used-needle guillotines are available for this.


Over the last 10 to 15 years, probiotics (living microbial cultures) have often been proposed as an alternative to antibiotics. The general opinion is that for a bacterial culture to produce a probiotics effect, it should be able to establish itself in the alimentary canal, excrete metabolites that prevent the growth of disease-promoting microorganisms, and be amenable to cultivation under industrial conditions, the product being well defined and durable. The concept has been that a probiotic should be given once or twice, after which the bacterium should establish itself in the alimentary canal, replacing any disease-promoting microorganisms. However, this approach has never given convincing results. Furthermore, it has proved practically impossible to get probiotics bacteria to establish themselves in a stable alimentary canal system. Most research scientists thus agree that in order for these bacteria to have any effect, they must be added to the food on a daily basis. Moreover, the use of probiotics bacterial cultures is expected to have the greatest effect when the alimentary flora of pigs are unstable -- that is, at birth and after weaning.

Management review for vaccines

* Check the expiry date

* Store in a fridge

* Monitor the temperature daily with a max/min thermometer. Freezing destroys vaccines.

* Don't overstock the fridge.

* Don't store food in the fridge.

* Follow the instructions.

* Ideally, use a fresh needle for each pig, but change it at least every five pigs.

* Do not mix vaccines or medicines.

* Dispose of needles in a sharps box.

* Clean out syringes immediately after use.

* Only use vaccines that are licensed in your country.

* Clean bottle tops before and after use.


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