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Gaining Greater Market Access for Ohio Feeder Calves

By Stan Smith
“The World is expecting a lot more information about the food they buy.”
“Consumers are concerned for animal health, and the sustainability of the production systems their food’s raised in.”
“Traceability and transparency are of growing concern to consumers.”
“Vaccination is not necessarily the same as immunization when it comes to preventing health issues.”
“Feed and bunk management, and avoiding nutritional stress are keys to calf health.”
These are just a few of the comments that will be emphasized, and discussed during this year’s Ohio Beef School presentations. This winter the Ohio Beef School has taken on an exciting new look and is likely coming soon to a County Extension office near you in the form of two 50 minute presentations featuring the authors of the quotes you see above.
Putting even more meaning into the statements above is the fact that Tyson Foods, who harvest and process 25% of the US beef market share, and also Wendy’s, the third largest fast food hamburger chain in this country, have both announced beginning in 2019 cattle they purchase must originate from producers and feedyards who are Beef Quality Assurance certified. Not only do today’s consumers have concerns, but now the businesses who are supplying the public’s demand for a quality beef product raised in a humane and sustainable fashion want some guarantees that it’s happening throughout the production chain. Following the lead set by the pork industry years ago, it’s safe to assume the entire beef industry will soon require BQA certification of it’s producers.
At the same time, with the expansion of the cow herd resulting in increased calf numbers, feeder calf buyers are also being more discriminant. Buyers increasingly demand that calves come with a weaning and health protocol that includes identification, bunk broke, castration, no horns and perhaps most importantly, to be effectively immunized against the ‘shipping fever’ complex of diseases. While not yet a requirement as they come to market, the necessity for a weaning and health protocol is reflected in the bids received by calves that are weaned on the truck in route to market.
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