July 26, 2002 | By: Aimee D. Heald

Consumers demand high-quality beef products when they go to the market. Kentucky's cattle producers can have a big part in making sure the animals they raise meet consumer standards by the time they reach grocery coolers. 

"More than 5,200 Kentucky cattle producers have become certified by the Kentucky Beef Quality Assurance program so far," said Patty Scharko, Extension veterinarian for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. "Through informative sessions, producers are learning ways they can increase and maintain the quality of their beef herds."

 Scharko said the Kentucky BQA program addresses common problem areas producers face, especially injection site blemishes, in order to improve product quality.

 "Producers learn that all injections should be given in the neck area and not in the rump," she said. "Subcutaneous or 'under the skin' injections are preferred to intramuscular injections to minimize blemishes." 

Also, Scharko said a good technique to minimize blemishes is a "tenting technique," where the handler uses his or her thumb, index and middle finger of one hand to raise the skin into a tent while the other gives the injection into the bottom region of that tent.

 "Using the bottom of the tent reduces the likelihood of you pushing the needle out the other side or injecting yourself," she said. "You should be sure to use a short needle of 3/4 inch to administer these injections and avoid sticking yourself." 

Another concern Scharko mentioned was Blackleg disease. She said it is a fairly common diagnosis of calves submitted to the UK Livestock Disease and Diagnostic Lab. She said to prevent Blackleg, all calves should be vaccinated with the seven-way Clostridial vaccine at two months of age and again near weaning time. 

"The seven-way vaccine causes local tissue irritation, so it needs to be given under the skin the neck area," she said. "Fortunately, all seven-way vaccines are approved for subcutaneous injection, which helps prevent blemishes while protecting calves from the deadly disease of blackleg." 

The BQA program also emphasizes the importance of proper restraint, which is essential in minimizing the risk of human or animal injury. Good cattle handling facilities are important and a good chute will allow a handler to easily get to the neck area of the animal.

"The bottom line is that beef quality assurance is important to consumers," Scharko said. "One BQA action is to reduce injection site blemishes. With a few easy steps, producers can control and reduce blemishes and thus increase the value and perception of their product."


Patty Scharko  859-253-0571