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Virginia Cooperative Extension -
 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Beef Quality Corner -- VQA Program Update

Livestock Update, February 1999

Bill R. McKinnon, Extension Animal Scientist, Marketing, Animal and Poultry Sciences, Virginia Tech

The Virginia Quality Assured (VQA) feeder cattle program completed its second successful year. Over 3200 cattle were marketed through the certification program conducted by the Virginia Cattlemen's Association. Price information was available on 3166 head of VQA tagged cattle. A total of 2206 steers brought a $3.38 per hundredweight price advantage over similar cattle sold through graded special sales during the same time period. Heifer calves sold for a $3.02 per hundredweight premium on 960 head. The weighted average advantage was $3.28/cwt. on both sexes. With a 603 pound average weight the premium for the VQA calves was $19.76 per head.

The VQA cattle were marketed by the owners in a number of methods. The Fredericksburg and Harrisonburg feeder cattle associations each conducted an exclusive sale for VQA calves. A number of calves were marketed through the Telo-auction field sales in load lots by either one owner or a group of owners. Individual owners also brought their certified and tagged calves to their local graded feeder cattle sales were the calves were sold in ownership lots. Marketing method appeared to have a significant impact on price premiums paid, with load lots of similar cattle bringing the highest prices.

The Virginia Quality Assured feeder cattle program was initiated by the Virginia Cattlemen's Association for those feeder cattle owners who believe in producing a value-added product. The value added is in the form of an improved health program and can additionally include improved genetics for growth. The VQA program has four levels of certification: Gold tag, Gold tag with "W," Purple tag, and Purple tag with "W."

Gold tagVaccinated against 7 strains of clostridial, IBR, BVD, PI3, and Pasteurella. Castrated, dehorned and healed. Heifers guaranteed open.

Gold tag with "W" Same health program as Gold tag with the calves weaned at least 30 days and drinking from a water trough and eating from a feed bunk.

Purple tagSame health program as Gold tag. Calves sired by bulls which meet minimum requirements for yearling weight EPD. (If yearling weight EPD is unavailable, the weaning weight EPD may be used.) Breed of sire identified on the tag.

Purple tag with "W" Same health and genetic requirements as the Purple tag with the calves weaned at least 30 days and drinking from a water trough and eating from a feed bunk.

Breed EPD Minimum Requirements for Purple Tag Certification
For Bulls Born in 1997 and 1998

The minimum EPD levels are specific to the year in which the bull was born and are basically set at breed average. The exceptions to the breed average EPD threshold are the Charolais, Gelbvieh, and Simmental breeds. For those three breeds the threshold is set for the top 70% of the breed. Minimum EPD levels for bulls born in earlier years are available through the local Extension office or the Virginia Cattlemen's Association.

The health and genetic information on the calves must be certified by a third party who has received training in the VQA program. In every area of the state there are veterinarians and Extension agents who are trained to be VQA third party certifiers. Brochures further explaining the Virginia Quality Assured feeder cattle program are available at the Virginia Cattlemen's Association.

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