COLUMBIA, Mo. – This year’s drought has taken its toll on the livestock industry, which has sold off thousands of animals because feed is too costly. A program at the University of Missouri may help these producers rebuild their herds with animals that produce more of the high-quality grades of beef that consumers are demanding.
Quality Beef by the Numbers (QB) is a university and industry joint project to boost the supply of choice- and prime-grade beef produced in Missouri and neighboring states. The program utilizes the best genetics, production practices and management techniques to increase the percentage of cattle that grade at the two highest levels. Selling better beef will put more profits into the pockets of producers, said Mike Kasten, program director.
“This is the perfect opportunity for producers, who have been affected by the drought, to tap into the latest technologies and the strongest markets as they rebuild their herds,” said Kasten. “Producing a high-quality product is where they need to be. If you’re not involved in a program like this, you’re going to find out you’re way behind the competition.”
According to recent studies, consumers are willing to pay more for USDA prime than average-grade steaks, Kasten said. That willingness to pay has not gone unnoticed by packers or feedlots, which are looking to buy more quality cattle and will pay premium prices to producers for those cattle.
A conference describing the project will be presented Aug. 30 in Columbia.
Working with the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) on the project are Irsik and Doll Feed Services Inc., Garden City, Kan.; Pratt Feeders LLC, Pratt, Kan.; Accelerated Genetics, Baraboo, Wis.; Genex Cooperative Inc., Shawano, Wis.; and Select Sires MidAmerica Inc., with offices in Louisville, Ky., and Logan, Utah.
Sysco Food Services, a national company that distributes food products to restaurants and health-care and educational facilities, and the USDA will participate in a panel discussion during the Aug. 30 program, as will representatives from two of the nation’s major meatpacking companies, Tyson Fresh Meats and National Beef. Representatives from Certified Angus Beef and Certified Hereford Beef will also participate in the panel discussion.
In the project, CAFNR will contribute scholarly expertise in reproductive and genetic technologies, statistical analysis, and measurement tools for evaluating economic outcomes. The artificial insemination industry will bring its experience in breeding and genetic management and improvements in reproductive efficiencies. Participating feed yards will add best-practice techniques in feeding and management of high-quality cattle. Beef cattle breed associations will furnish expertise in the development of informational and marketing pieces.
The implications for higher profits in the cattle industry could have a significant impact on Missouri, which ranks third in beef cow inventory at 1.865 million head. Missouri cattle and calf receipts totaled $1.4 billion in 2010, ranking third among all Missouri commodities.
CAFNR has been researching techniques that contribute to the QB program at its Thompson Research Center, near Spickard, Mo. Last year, 31 percent of steers there graded prime. The national average for cattle that grade prime runs just over three percent, said Scott Brown, CAFNR research assistant professor.
Details are available at www.quality-beef.com.