Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) and Dairy Animal Care and Quality Assurance (DACQA) focus on best management practices that look at the day to day husbandry practices used in caring for cattle that provide beef for family’s tables across the United States and abroad. The National BQA program continually works with all sectors of the beef and dairy industries to improve the content, credibility, and the uniformity of standards for raising food animals to assure the quality of beef products.
Antibiotic stewardship, and all medications or feed additive use for that matter, is a key component of the BQA and DACQA programs. As changes occur to FDA regulations governing feed-grade antibiotic use, remember to maintain your cattle treatment records, veterinary instructions, and drug inventory lists accordingly. Records should be maintained for two years. Additionally, remember to keep veterinarian’s prescriptions and VFDs with the records. More importantly, maintain a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) to be able to acquire feed-grade medications when situations arise and have veterinary input to continually improve herd health plans.
Feed yards are held to high standards and often put under the microscope in the eyes of meat packers and the public. The National BQA program continues to collaborate with major packing companies to create a more uniform producer training program on cattle handling instead of multiple packer-specific programs. All employees should maintain a current BQA certificate. The BQA program strongly encourages feed yards to complete a Feed yard Assessment every three years and create written Standards of Practice Protocols. To be listed on the National BQA list of certified feed yards, Feed yard Assessments must be completed. The National BQA list of certified feed yards will allow packers to verify feed yard BQA certification before purchasing cattle. This assists packers to keep their commitments to consumers about the well-being of the cattle they either own or purchase. The database will solely be accessed by national or state BQA coordinators and packers to ensure producer confidentiality.
Dairy beef accounts for 15 to 20 percent of the United States’ beef production. The National BQA program is teaming up with the dairy industry to provide a collaborative effort to handle producer training programs and develop uniform resources on animal care and handling. The DACQA program, or Dairy BQA, will more closely reflect the Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (F.A.R.M.) standards that are required by milk processors. Since dairy feedlots are not required to participate in the F.A.R.M. program, they should maintain DACQA or BQA certification. Be watching for new training materials to come out.
So what does this mean for South Dakota?
South Dakota still requires cattlemen to complete both levels of the SD BQA/CMP program, the educational training (Level 1) and the veterinarian approved site and treatment plan (Level 2). Feed yards should get in the habit of completing a Feed yard Assessment on a regular basis and updating their files to have current written Standards of Practice Protocols, which is similar to Level 2 requirements. The South Dakota Beef Industry Council (SDBIC) and SDSU Extension are updating the South Dakota materials appropriately and compiling the National BQA resources for producers.
South Dakota dairymen should continue to complete the F.A.R.M. program to comply with milk processor requirements, which will also simultaneously meet the SDBIC standards to receive a DACQA certification number as well. Dairy feed yards should maintain either DACQA or BQA certification and are encouraged to follow the recommendations for beef feed yards. Be watching for some on-farm dairy cattle handling workshops later this summer.