In mid-June, Agriculture Innovation at Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College brought together local cattle farmers, educators, livestock experts, and a variety of industry-related vendors for a unique annual event that combines Stockmanship & Stewardship training with Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certification at the Tri-County Fairgrounds in Petersburg.
The training started with a transportation-focused BQA certification led by West Virginia University Extension Livestock Specialist Kevin Shaffer. BQA programs help beef producers market their cattle, demonstrate their commitment to food safety and quality, and carry out responsible cattle management.
“BQA certification is important because it highlights best management practices, and it is a producer-run education program to help maintain food safety and quality,” said Shaffer.
More than 30 local cattle producers received their BQA certification and Stockmanship & Stewardship training.
Recent research has shown that BQA certification helps producers financially, too. A 2019 study by Colorado State University showed BQA-certified producers earn more per head of cattle sold, indicating that consumers value cattle raised by producers well educated in BQA best management practices.
Later, participants engaged in a hands-on workshop with Ron Gill, professor and Extension livestock specialist at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. Gill demonstrated proper methods for hauling and handling cattle, including reviewing fitness for transport, trip planning and loading, biosecurity, and emergency management.
“The main thing we are trying to get across is that the way we handle cattle impacts a lot of things in the industry,” said Gill. “One thing we don’t talk about much is what we call shrink. If cattle lose weight because they are stressed, that is money out of our pocket. A lot of things are kind of hidden advantages to improve stockmanship, but if we get better at it, there is a whole host of things that can benefit in our operation.”
Vera Page, owner and operator of Woodside Farm in Burlington, said the diversity in age and background of the participants in the training contributed to a deeper discussion than is usually found at stockyards or fairs.
“I just think it was great to see all of the people out today to learn about the beef quality techniques and handling facilities and everything we can commit in our practices every day,” said Vanessa Harper, DVM Veterinary Medical Officer USDA/APHIS. “And to just see the comradery with the ag industry in our area, we appreciate having everybody here.”
Eastern Agriculture Innovation is offering another BQA certification on Nov. 14, 2023, at WVU Reymann Memorial Farm in Wardensville as part of the Livestock Management Systems micro credential. The cost of attendance is $15.
The aim of the micro credential is to provide training on standards of best practices for livestock producers and animal handlers and also includes additional trainings and certifications throughout the year including bovine artificial insemination and pasture grazing management training.
To learn more about training offered by Eastern Agriculture Innovation, or to register for the upcoming BQA training, visit easternwv.edu/ag-innovation/ or call 304-434-8000 ext. 9609.
CONTACT: Olivia Miller
Marketing Specialist; Eastern Advancement and Continuing Education