Beef Quality Corner
Livestock Update, April 1998
Bill R. McKinnon, Extension Animal Scientist, Marketing, Virginia Tech
The Virginia cattle industry's commitment to producer education on improving beef quality assurance will be unveiled on Friday, April 23 at the Virginia Beef Expo. The 11:00 a.m. educational program will utilize an innovative exhibit background and other props to visually demonstrate how the individual beef producer can play an important role in improving the quality, safety, and consistency of the beef product.
The Virginia beef industry in partnership with North Carolina has purchased a copy of the unique, three panel beef quality exhibit developed at Auburn University. The exhibit incorporates photos, diagrams, taxidermy and fiberglass models of a beef carcass and cuts to help teach various facets of improving beef quality and safety. This same exhibit has received mention in several national publications. The exhibit is organized into three 14' by 11' displays dealing with management, breeding programs, and responsible culling.
Dr. John Hall, Extension beef cattle specialist. will lead the discussion on "Responsible Culling Improves Herd Productivity and Efficiency." Dr. Hall will discuss identifying and managing early cases of bovine ocular neoplasia ("cancer eye"), lameness and bad udders using taxidermy props. Hall will also look at managing cow condition to improve reproductive performance or to at least optimize salvage value. The importance of pregnancy testing, using teeth to age cows and the impact of disposition will also be addressed.
Dr. Scott Greiner, new Extension beef/sheep specialist, will help participants understand how "Targeted Breeding Equals Customer Satisfaction." Using a molded beef carcass mock-up, Dr. Greiner will discuss the cattle and ultimate carcass characteristics sought after by the mainstream of market demand today. Participants will learn the basics of USDA quality and yield grades and how frame size and muscling can impact these important measures. As the industry moves toward value based marketing it will be extremely important for seedstock and cow/calf operators to understand the importance that genetics plays in producing a consistent, quality product.
The discussion on "Proper Management Enhances Beef Quality and Product Value" will be lead by Bill McKinnon, Extension marketing specialist. Taxidermy and fiberglass mock-ups will be utilized to illustrate the millions of dollars in loss due to injection site damage. McKinnon will examine the role the producer plays in minimizing product defects from bruising and hide damage which cost the industry millions of dollars each year. Participants will learn how their management impacts the value of a beef animal from the feeder calf, to the finished steer, and to the cull cow or bull.
The education program will ask producers the question, "Would you eat what you produce?"