Beef quality network connects cattlemen to value added markets
There are 2 million head of beef cattle in Oklahoma and over 50,000 beef producers but only 4 percent of those cattle are enrolled in any value enhancement program.
That is a number that Doug McKinney, Value Added Beef Cattle Specialist at Oklahoma State University, would like to change with the help of the Oklahoma Quality Beef Network (OQBN).
"Other states like Missouri, Iowa, Kentucky, and Wyoming are blowing us out of the water," McKinney said during his presentation at the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association annual convention. "They are marketing a product and that is what we want to do, market an Oklahoma raised calf."
The Oklahoma Quality Beef Network is not new. It has been around for nearly 10 years, but it has been improved to meet the needs of Oklahoma beef producers. Changes have been made to OQBN in the last year to better market Oklahoma cattle.
OQBN is involved with all four types of value enhancement programs including health management, age and source verification, production system verification, and genetic verification. The network can help producers get enrolled in those value added opportunities by providing unbiased information on beef value enhancement. It provides beef producers with the education and tools to access value added programs.
McKinney said they are working on a new website that will include information on all value added programs, links to other value added programs, access to helpful resources, and online enrollment. The website is currently under construction.
OQBN offers its own "Vac-45" value added program. Cattle can be dual certified in other health management verification programs. McKinney said the Vac-45 program is brand neutral, which means a beef producer and his local veterinarian can select the vaccine products that best fit his situation.
To be part of the Vac-45 program, calves must be castrated, dehorned, and healed; weaned 45 days; tagged with a program compliant ear tag; follow one of three vaccination protocols; and follow Beef Quality Assurance guidelines. The three vaccination protocols include treating the first time at branding with follow-up at weaning; treating the first time two to six weeks prior to weaning with follow-up at weaning; and treating at weaning with follow-up 14 to 28 days later.
If calves qualify for the Vac-45 program, they will be issued an OQBN ear tag for identification purposes. McKinney said if a producer is enrolled in another program that has an approved ear tag, that will work just fine.
"We do third party verification to make sure the cattle have met all of the requirements," McKinney said.
There are several benefits to a program like Vac-45, McKinney said. These include reduced stress on the cattle, improved immune system, increased sale weight, and with larger numbers to market, there is increased market demand. Research has shown that buyers pay $3 to $6 per cwt. more for preconditioned calves.
This fall, there are three OQBN sales planned--two at OKC West Livestock Market on Nov.4 and Dec. 2 and one at Red River Livestock on Dec. 9.
McKinney said they recommend that Vac-45 calves should be fed a concentrate supplement for a minimum of seven days after weaning so the cattle are trained to eat from a bunk. They also recommend that the calves be dewormed and treated for external parasites.
"Are you selling your cattle or marketing your cattle?" McKinney asked. "When you market your cattle, you are identifying the differences or advantages that your product has over other products."
OQBN can help producers verify the advantages of their Oklahoma raised calves.
Doug Rich can be reached by phone at 785-749-5304 or by e-mail at email@example.com.