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VQA Purple Tag- Sire EPD Specifications

Livestock Update, February 2004

Scott Greiner, Extension Animal Scientist, Beef, VA Tech

The Virginia Quality Assured Feeder Calf Program was established a few years ago to provide producers with an opportunity to add value to their cattle through a documentation process for genetics and health. Most recently, the program also added Beef Quality Assurance Certification as a requirement of producers marketing calves through the program. The VQA program has established a positive reputation among cattle feeders for the quality of the calves purchased through the program. In 2003, nearly 7300 VQA calves were marketed. Across all weights, steer and heifers combined, VQA feeder cattle averaged a $5.42 per cwt. premium over L&M 1 graded feeder cattle. This equates to an average advantage of nearly $35 per head.

Specifically, VQA is a tagging program divided into four levels. The Gold Tag requires vaccination against 7 strains of clostridial, IBR, BVD, PI3, and Pasteurella. Additionally, calves must be dehorned and healed, steers castrated, and heifers guaranteed open. The Purple Tag requires the same health program as Gold Tag, along with minimum growth EPD requirements for the sire of the calf. The Gold and Purple tags are further identified to differentiate cattle which have been weaned at least 30 days, and bunk broke.

For cattle to qualify for the VQA Purple Tag, their sire must meet breed-specific yearling weight EPD minimums. The intention of the sire growth EPD specifications is to assure calves carrying the purple tag have the genetic potential to achieve reasonable levels of growth performance post-weaning. Yearling weight EPD is the best indicator of genetic potential for feedlot average daily gain. Feedlot profitability is highly related to cost of gain, which within a pen of cattle is a function of feed efficiency, growth (ADG), and health. The generally favorable relationship between growth and feed efficiency results in yearling weight EPD being the most practical tool for enhancement of feedlot performance.

The following table provides the breed minimum yearling weight EPD requirements for bulls born in Fall 2002 and Spring 2003. Calves sired by bulls with yearling weight EPDs greater than or equal to the minimums published are eligible for the purple tag. In the event a bull does not have a yearling weight EPD, weaning weight EPD is used as the specification. These EPD specifications are based on information published in the Spring 2003 breed sire evaluation summaries, and will be applicable to yearling bulls purchased spring 2004. The sire EPD specifications have been set at birth year breed average for most breeds. Due to the growth advantages of the Charolais and Simmental breeds, bulls of these breeds must have a yearling weight EPD in the top 70% of their respective breed to qualify.

VQA Purple Tag Sire Minimum Yearling Weight EPD Requirements
  Bull Birth Year (Fall-Spring)
  Fı02-Spı03 Fı01-Spı02 Fı00-Spı01 Fı99-Spı0019981997
Angus 64 61 56 56 57 56
Charolais 18 18 17 15 15 15
Gelbvieh - PB & 7/8
Gelbvieh - Balancer (1/2) 66
56 56 53
Hereford 59 57 56 54 55 52
Limousin 24 23 21 19 20 17
Red Angus 50 49 46 42 44 43
Salers 21 21 20 19 18 17
Shorthorn 21 20 18 18 18 23
Simmental - PB & 7/8
Simmental - 1/2
48 47 47
Minimum EPD is breed average for all breeds except Charolais and Simmental (top 70th percentile)
Gelbvieh- top 70th percentile for years 2001-02 and prior, breed average thereafter
Percentage bulls (ie. Balancers, half-bloods, etc.) have slightly different specifications
For breeds not listed, contact your local extension office

In summary, the VQA program provides an opportunity for producers to add value to their feeder cattle. The program has gained recognition for the reputation VQA cattle have established for their health record and growth performance. For more information on the VQA program, contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office or the Virginia Cattlemen's Association.

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