This summer, in collaboration with the Kansas Livestock Association and the Kansas Beef Council, several Kansas State University veterinary medicine, and animal sciences and industry students traveled across the state to perform Beef Quality Assurance assessments at feedyards.
According to Dr. Dan Thomson, Jones professor of clinical epidemiology in K-State’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Beef Quality Assurance is the cornerstone program of the beef industry to ensure safe, wholesome beef from cattle raised humanely.
The BQA feedyard assessment program was established in the spring 2009 and focuses on animal welfare, records, protocols, facilities and equipment. A copy of the BQA Feedyard Assessment Guide is posted online at bqa.org.
The predominantly student-led BQA team operated out of the College of Veterinary Medicine with guidance from Thomson and Clayton Huseman, executive director of the Kansas Livestock Association’s Feedlot Division.
Over three months, the group assessed 32 feedyards across Kansas. These feedyards represented 690,000 head on feed.
“We have been proud to provide service to our cattle-feeding stakeholders in the state of Kansas since 2012,” Thomson said. “Our goal is to empower our veterinary and animal science students to run the BQA assessment project as a business.”
Thomson said students developed a budget, set up a phone line, made a map of the feedlots in the state and directly contacted feedlot managers to set up the assessment visits.
“It is such a great learning, networking experience for our students and a great service for our beef producers,” Thomson said. “It is what the land-grant mission is all about.”
To serve on the BQA team, students had to become BQA-certified and then attend a BQA feedyard assessment training at Cattle Empire in Satanta. Students also had to demonstrate a working knowledge of low-stress cattle handling, animal welfare and an understanding of its importance to beef consumers.
“Aside from performing assessments, our team was able to work with consulting veterinarians, nutritionists and feedyard managers, as well as provide training for feedyard employees,” Thomson said.
Students on the BQA team said they enjoyed the opportunity to interact with people who are so passionate about their role in the beef industry and getting to compare different feedyard handling facilities and management styles.
Student members of the BQA team include Jared Bourek, third-year veterinary medicine student and doctoral student in pathobiology, and Arlen Stoller, third-year veterinary medicine student, both from Manhattan; Damon Smith, senior in animal sciences and industry, and pre-veterinary medicine, Waterville.
From out of state: Savannah Miller, third-year veterinary medicine student, Corning, California; Jessie Vallejo, master’s student in veterinary biomedical science, Gridley, California; Tyler Blackwood, second-year veterinary student and master’s student veterinary biomedical science, Napa, California; Sydney Bigger, second-year veterinary medicine student and master’s student in veterinary biomedical science, Media, Illinois; and Amy Servos, third-year veterinary student from Cypress, Texas.
For more information regarding BQA feedyard assessments, or to schedule a feedyard assessment, contact the BQA team at firstname.lastname@example.org.