BQA adds value

Drew Gaffney does more than preach to Nebraska producers about the value of Beef Quality Assurance. He pockets an extra $20 per head in value at market time by practicing BQA principles in his cow-calf and yearling operation.

“Getting certified is the right thing to do as far as handling and treating your cattle, and lessening their stress in the process,” says Gaffney, who is BQA coordinator for the Nebraska Cattlemen and has a ranch west of Anselmo. “It also makes sense in terms of the bottom line as a value-added opportunity for your herd.”

At a glance

• Beef Quality Assurance provides steps for proper handling.

• BQA certification is a marketing tool for producers.

• More Nebraska producers need to become certified.


As coordinator, he leads a voluntary program that counts 2,800 beef producers in Nebraska as certified BQA participants. Feedlot owners and employees representing more than 90% of the state’s finished cattle are certified in the program, while approximately half of the state’s cow-calf producers are enrolled. Those percentages in both sectors are higher in Nebraska than in other states.

Growing demand

Gaffney and fellow BQA promoters are focusing efforts to beef up participation in the cow-calf sector, and the marketing angle ought to be an incentive for higher participation, he says. “We are starting to see increased demand from feedlots for BQA-certified calves, as well as growing demand for BQA-certified finished cattle from packers and finished product by retailers.”

Gaffney and his wife, Cristi, partner with Cristi’s father, Vern Copsey, at Copsey/Gaffney Ranch, which consists of 500 spring-calving cows, 100 head of fall calvers and 300 head of grass-fed yearlings. Additionally, Gaffney partners with his parents, Howard and Linda, in a 150-head cow-calf operation.

“We background our calves to 550 to 750 pounds and market them at the Burwell Livestock Market, where our cattle are announced in the ring as BQA certified,” Gaffney says.

BQA operations, by following recommended guidelines outlined in training sessions and a manual, produce a superiorquality product that offers a payback to producers, he says. Cattle are more comfortable, with less stress. “That results in higher gains and better fertility, among other things,” he says of his own operation. “The ultimate objective is assuring consumer confidence in beef.”

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VALUE-ADDED: To Drew Gaffney of Anselmo, the Beef Quality Assurance program is a way to properly care for your animals and to put more money in your pocket.

This article published in the June, 2010 edition of NEBRASKA FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2010.