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The Cattle Business - VQA Feeder Cattle Start Strong

Livestock Update, September 1997

Bill McKinnon, Animal and Poultry Sciences, Virginia Tech

The first sales of Virginia Quality Assured (VQA) feeder cattle got off to a strong start in early August with a load of five-weight steers pressuring the $1 per pound mark. The first set of VQA cattle marketed were five and a half load lots sold via telo-auction by 13 consignors from the Buckingham Cattlemens Association. The consignors organized to put together 468 calves into two trailer loads of five-weight steers, two loads of six-weight steers, one load of six-weight heifers and a 62 head partial load of five-weight heifers. A breakdown of prices for the calves and how they sold in comparison to L&M1 cattle of the same weight in graded special sales is shown in Table 1.

Table 1. VQA Feeder Cattle vs. Graded Special Sales (LM1)*

 8/4/97LM1$/Cwt Price
5 - weight$97.75$87.76+ $9.99
6 - weight$90.15$84.81+ $5.34

 8/4/97LM1$/Cwt Price
5 - weight$79.40$77.60+ $1.80
6 - weight$80.00$75.12+ $4.88
* Prices compared to special sales within a week of VQA sale (Abingdon, Wytheville, Winchester, and Front Royal)

The majority of the calves were still on the cow with only approximately 25% of the calves being weaned at sale time. The cattle were certified at the "Purple Tag" level, meaning that they had been vaccinated for IBR, BVD, PI3, Pasteurella, and 7 strain clostridial and were sired by bulls with above breed average yearling EPD's.

The Virginia Quality Assured program is a certification process whereby feeder cattle with graduated levels of vaccination and genetic background are identified as they enter the marketing process. There are basically four levels of certification based upon the two criteria of health management and genetics as listed below.

  1. Vaccination/management history
  2. Genetics of sire

Gold tagVaccination program
Gold tag with a "W"Vaccination program plus preweaned
Purple tagVaccination program plus minimum requirements on sire and breed of sire identified
Purple tag with a "W"Vaccination program plus sire minimums plus preweaned

One of the key points to the program has been the certification of the appropriate tag requirements by a qualified third party. At this time approximately fifty veterinarians and thirty extension agents have been trained in the details of the VQA program to serve as certifiers.

The Southside Feeder Cattle Association has scheduled a VQA Gold with "W" tag only sale for Friday, September 19, at Blackstone. Producers in the Harrisonburg area are also exploring an avenue for marketing a group of VQA calves this fall. Producers considering the use the VQA tag program to market their feeder cattle should check with the Virginia Cattlemen's Association, their local Extension agent, VDACS marketing specialist and other local producers to plan their marketing strategy.

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