Beef Quality Assurance is a nationally coordinated, state-implemented program that provides information to U.S. beef producers and beef consumers of how common-sense husbandry techniques can be coupled with accepted scientific knowledge to raise cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions.
“Low-stress stockmanship is really starting to catch on,” said Bill Pelton, Montana Beef Quality Assurance coordinator. “If not, it should catch on. It’s an important part of beef quality assurance.”
He said more producers are wanting to get involved with the program, known as BQA, and low-stress stockmanship. And it all starts with a paradigm shift.
“Not only a paradigm shift for the cattle but a paradigm shift for the people who are handling the cattle. And the people who are handling the cattle need to make the shift first or the cattle never get to experience the good of low stress stockmanship,” Pelton said.
Carl Loyning agrees. He and wife Denise own L Bar W Cattle Company near Absarokee. He said it’s a little different than what his grandpa did.
“We’re a little more interested in the science of it,” said Loyning. “How to make things better. Always learning and always trying new things. Trying to be progressive in what we’re doing. Maximizing our profits and making sure the cattle are doing everything they’re supposed to do and meeting their full potential.”
Dr. Tom Noffsinger is a veterinarian for Merck Animal Health. He was in Montana recently speaking to producers in Lewistown and Absarokee about low-stress cattle handling and BQA.
“The definition of low-stress cattle handling has to do with an attitude of making cattle better every time we intervene with them,” said Noffsinger. “So, every job we have, whether we’re rotating pastures, whether we’re calving, whether we’re weaning, whether we’re processing, we should at that as an opportunity to give cattle more confidence, more health and more performance.”
He said it’s also what consumers are wanting of those who raise their food.
“That survey that indicates that consumers in California are more worried about the animal well-being in feedlots than they are of the well-being of their children is a big signal,” Noffsinger said.
For livestock producers like Loyning, low-stress stockmanship and BQA are something they truly believe in.
“We’ve been implementing that we’ve been talking about for quite a few years” said Loyning. “We believe that the less stress the better the gain, the better the response going into a feedlot, everything. It’s just something we truly believe in.”
BQA guidelines are designed to make certain all beef consumers can take pride in what they purchase – and can trust and have confidence in the entire beef industry.