In 2001 Oklahoma State University and the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association came together and formed a marketing and value added beef network for Oklahoma producers called The Oklahoma Quality Beef Network (OQBN). The Oklahoma Quality Beef Network, at its base, is a communication and educational tool to increase opportunities and provide quality cattle to all segments of Oklahoma’s beef industry.
Using OQBN as that communication tool, feedback from feedlots, packers and extension personnel was positive and they communicated that they needed cattle that could be managed in a way to increase feeding performance and more importantly health in the feedlot. The OQBN VAC-45 program was then developed. Cow/Calf producers had the opportunity to enroll in the VAC-45 program or another “branded” value added program if their calves were weaned for 45 days and met a handful of other management requirements. These calves were then offered for sale and received a premium for producers, who many already were doing these management practices. OQBN VAC-45 is still strong and sold over 3500 head with a 9.23$/cwt overall premium in 2012.
Recently, using OQBN to communicate with Oklahoma’s producers, demand for a verified stocker program has been strong. Producers, who put together cattle from many sources and have been meeting feedlot demand for healthy high quality calves for years, now have the option to verify those cattle through the OQBN PRECON program. The new program will allow producers to capitalize on premiums, and it allows for summer stockers as well as stocker cattle grazing wheat pasture to qualify. It may also allow cow/calf producers some relief during drought who are not ready to commit to rebuilding their cow herd but still have some early season grass available or producers out west where condition persist with little native grass but hopefully an increase in moisture will allow wheat pasture next fall.
OQBN PRECON does not replace the VAC-45 program. It is just another option to provide quality cattle within the state. Again, other “branded” value added programs who meet OQBN PRECON requirements are eligible for enrollment. Once enrolled and cattle are verified by OSU Extension personnel, producers have the option to market cattle in OQBN sales that are meant to bring large numbers of similar type cattle together for buyers. If a producer has other avenues of marketing cattle then they will still have the verified status on their cattle aiding them in their marketing efforts.