Oklahoma Quality Beef Network (OQBN) 2015 Summary
Cattle sickness costs the industry millions of dollars each year. These losses negatively impact producer profitability and they impact each and every level of the beef production chain. Negative impacts are felt at the producer level through decreased performance, death loss, increased costs associated with treating sick animals, increased labor expenses and additional expenses for equipment, to name a few. At times, these losses extend beyond the cow-calf producer to each of the other sectors of the beef economy. Chronically ill cattle place a huge financial burden on the entire industry as the cost of carrying such cattle replicates itself throughout the life of the calf. Unfortunately the cost burdens associated with cattle sickness do not stop once the cattle are harvested. There are a number of well-documented studies including the 1995, 2000 and 2005 Beef Quality Audits that clearly illustrate that sickness in cattle, at even an early age, can have dramatic impacts on carcass quality, tenderness, and in some extreme cases the condemnation of entire carcasses.
In order to facilitate the adoption of best management practices that should result in reduced sickness and associated adverse effects, the Oklahoma Quality Beef Network (OQBN) was initially developed in 2001 and redefined in 2009. The objective is to add value to Oklahoma’s calf crop and capture at least part of the added value. During the initial phase of the OQBN, a source and process verification system was implemented focusing on management practices around the time of weaning. In general, OQBN process verification (or certification) requires producers to wean their calves at the home ranch for a minimum of 45 days and follow specific quality assurance, vaccination and nutritional guidelines.
OQBN offers unbiased information on beef cattle value enhancement. It provides producers and others in the beef industry education and tools to improve access to value-added programs. In the beginning of OQBN, the program was designed to be a process verification and certification program for preconditioned calves. Today, the OQBN is the “complete” value-added program as it is a network of Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association, livestock auctions, beef producers, and allied beef industry. It offers participation in value-added markets such as health management verification, age verification, source verification, production system verification, and genetic verification.
The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service in cooperation with the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association recognized the increased interest and participation in value-enhancement marketing strategies for cow-calf producers. However, many producers are unaware and unfamiliar with value-added programs available to them. As a result of the challenges facing the Oklahoma beef industry, a Beef Cattle Value Enhancement Specialist was hired in 2008 at OSU to assist producers in taking advantage of the programs and opportunities available. One of the first tasks identified was developing benchmarks for current participation in value-added programs by Oklahoma beef cattle producers. This benchmark was then repeated in 2012 it see changes in the participation of value added programs over a 5 year period.
This document is a summary of the 2015 OQBN program.