Beef cow-calf producers have consistently improved the quality of beef from cull cows and bulls. Over the past two decades the beef industry has conducted quality assurance audits for cull cows and bulls. Every concern has been addressed and producers have decreased quality defects of most quality measures.
Beef from cull cows selling as whole muscle cuts has increased over the years as opposed to hamburger. Consequently the value of cull cows has improved as quality defects have decreased with lower incidents of bruising and injections site lesions.
One area of concern that continues to be an issue is the occurrence of violative drug residue. The beef cattle industry has not been able to eliminate this vital defect. The USDA National Residue Program indicates that beef cows continue to be detected with violative drug residues at a rate of 0.5-0.7 percent. That may seem like a small number but that’s five head per 1000.
Violative drug residues have stayed consistent over the past decade. Unfortunately most of these incidences are due to careless management. Cow-calf producers need to keep better records and pay careful attention at shipping time. Most violations are from antibiotics, anti-inflammatory products and anthelmintics. There is no good excuse for violating drug withdrawal times. Many violations probably occur while cows are being processed in the fall. A cow receives a deworming product in the chute before she’s identified as open. These violations are a small percentage of the entire industry but the industry needs to concentrate on driving violation rates to zero. Educators at Michigan State University Extension recommend that producers be diligent in their health recording keeping and animal tracking systems.
Beef Quality Assurance is an important program that when followed correctly ensures the production of high quality beef. For more information on producing high quality beef from cull cows and bulls contact me, Ruminant Extension educator with Michigan State University at firstname.lastname@example.org or 906-884-4386.
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