Integrity Beef: More Than a "Value Added" Program
Originally Published May 1, 2009
The Integrity Beef program (IBeef) was first introduced several years ago to a few progressive cow-calf producers. It serves as an example of an integrated effort to apply state-of-the-art technology and best management practices of the cattle industry to produce a more consistent, high quality product. Today, the IBeef program is a joint effort between the Noble Research Institute consultation program and participating cooperators-members of the Integrity Beef Alliance. It is a producer-led program with the Noble Research Institute serving as consultants to the Alliance. The aim of this "value-added" program is to realize greater returns to operations by producing calves that incorporate superior genetics, improved herd health and management strategies that enable diverse marketing opportunities.
This program invites cow-calf producers to participate. They must adhere to specified record-keeping protocols, best management practices and bull selection criteria, as agreed up by the Integrity Beef Alliance and Noble Research Institute consultants. When participating in the special Value-Added Calf Sale, each animal must be uniquely identified with an electronic identification (eID) tag.
All IBeef participants must meet Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) training requirements to ensure that they have the working knowledge to properly process and handle cattle using the industry-recognized standards. Noble Research Institute consultants provide training, or the producer can go to www.bqa.org for the training and certification.
All IBeef participants are asked to contact Noble Research Institute IBeef representatives prior to weaning to determine the total number of calves participating in the Integrity Beef program for the year and to arrange for eID delivery. The eID tags and forms are shipped directly to the ranch headquarters. Enrollment is updated annually through a Noble Research Institute IBeef representative.
Calves are then weaned and processed again in the fall. Producers collect weaning data and precondition the calves for at least 60 days. The calves are then eligible for collective marketing through a sanctioned sale, are marketed as independent groups, or are retained for marketing as heavy stockers or feeders at a later date. The information collected is analyzed to produce reports that are used by the consultation teams and participants to monitor progress toward defined goals.
The IBeef program is a "value-added" program and more. As you can see from the management practices outlined above, this program is intensive. It requires more because it takes a lot more effort to differentiate a program in an extremely competitive industry. It is for the truly progressive producer who values data, information, technology, quality livestock and production practices, and who is willing to hold themselves to a higher standard — integrity.