February 10, 2020
America's outstanding beef and dairy producers: Winners announced
The IX Ranch in Big Sandy, Montana, in the US has prioritized raising high-quality cattle throughout its history, and has found that having exceptional cattle goes hand in hand with training exceptional employees.
The 126,000-acre (around 50,990-hectare) ranch, owned by the Roth family, is one of the winners of the 2020 Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Awards announced by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association earlier this month. It garnered the Cow-Calf Award.
The Roth family, which has owned and operated IX Ranch since the 1950s, said implementing BQA fits right in with the ranch's goal to have a 'blue-ribbon operation." The blue ribbon is a symbol of high quality.
All full-time employees at the IX Ranch are required to be BQA-certified, and the ranch has seen improvement across its operations through low-stress animal handling and increased awareness of employee safety.
The National BQA Awards annually recognize outstanding beef and dairy producers and marketers. Winners not only demonstrate high-quality animal care and handling principles as part of their day-to-day operations, but express a strong desire to improve their operations through BQA.
Aside from Cow-Calf, other award categories are Dairy, Feedyard, Marketer and Educator.
Boadwine Farms is the winner of the Dairy Award. The Baltic, South Dakota, dairy raises more than 2,000 Holstein dairy cows, with 2,500 acres (around 1,011 hectares) planted with rotating feed and forage crops. The dairy opens its doors to educate interns at South Dakota State University, local students and consumers across the state.
Boadwine Farms' adoption of modern technology and animal-handling practices, including following BQA and FARM (Farm and Ranch Management) guidelines across its facilities, not only ensures that visitors gain a clear understanding of best practices but that cow comfort and care is always the No. 1 priority among its employees.
Feedyard Award winner
Bledsoe Cattle Co., which is headquartered in Wray, Colorado, won the award in the Feedyard category. The company has feedyard facilities in several Colorado counties and a stocker ranch in South Dakota. With its diverse operations, the company places high value on BQA guidelines to ensure consistent, high-quality care for its more than 8,000 head of cattle.
Bledsoe provides BQA training and certification every three years for its employees. The company also regularly provides BQA training to its contracted crews, sharing the benefits of proper chute-side BQA techniques with livestock operations across eastern Colorado.
Western Video Market (WVM) won the Marketer Award. Founded in 1989, WVM has been a proponent of BQA programmes and guidelines for nearly as long as BQA has been around and encourages adoption of BQA practices with its producers, buyers and auction partners.
During broadcast auctions where buyers are limited to seeing video of cattle, having a BQA certification shows that producers follow industry standards for high-quality animal handling and health care. As BQA programmes have grown in recognition throughout the US, WVM has seen that lots of cattle from BQA-certified producers are more likely to be sold at a premium, yielding benefits to both producers and buyers who recognise the value of the programme.
The Educator of the Year Award went to Mr. Curt Pate who, for more than a decade, has educated tens of thousands of beef industry professionals on safe and effective stockmanship and livestock handling throughout the United States.
Pate's insights on best practices for low-stress livestock handling have not only led more producers to embrace BQA, but shaped the programme itself. Pate has been a major proponent in developing BQA's clinics and demonstrations throughout the programme's history. He continues to advocate for the programme's use to encourage improvement in cattle care throughout the industry.
The National BQA Awards are funded in part by the Beef Checkoff programme. The Cow-Calf, Feedyard, Dairy and Marketer Awards received additional financial support from Cargill, while the Educator Award had additional financial support from Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health.