October 6, 2017
A national audit has shown that the US beef industry, of which dairy cows comprise a significant portion, continues to improve the quality of its management practices, reports the US National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF).
According to the results of 2016 National Beef Quality Audit commissioned by the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) programme, the cattle industry continues to make progress in reducing defects that negatively impact beef quality.
For example, lameness in cull cattle has improved significantly: Today, 76% of cull cattle are identified as sound. Body condition scores of cull cattle have also improved: Only 9.3% of cattle were identified as "too thin," compared with 22% in 2007. Additionally, the number of blemishes, condemnations and other attributes that detract from value remain minimal.
BQA and the National Dairy FARM Programme shared the audit results at a news conference on Thursday, Oct. 5, at the 51st World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin.
"As dairy cows continue to grow as an integral part of the US beef supply, these results demonstrate that producers are dedicated not only to producing a safe, wholesome, high-quality milk product but also to showing that same dedication to the meat produced by the dairy sector", said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the NMPF.
For 25 years, the National Beef Quality Audit has delivered a set of guidelines and measurements to help cattle producers determine quality conformance of the US beef supply. Today, dairy cows represent 20% of the US beef supply, a sharp increase from 5.5% in 2011.
One improvement the audit revealed is that the industry can more effectively communicate beef's benefits to consumers. "The research proved the cattle industry has a great story to tell, but also suggests we aren't getting that story to as many people as we should", said Josh White, executive director of producer education for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
He added: "Utilizing the Beef Quality Assurance and the FARM programmes and the shared principles more uniformly throughout the beef and dairy industries cannot only enhance industry commitment to better beef, but would help increase consumer confidence and encourage greater beef demand".