Dr. Mike Wirtz, DVM, and his wife, Anne of TZ Cattle Company in Brenham, Texas, have been advocates of the checkoff-funded Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program for nearly three decades. Mike puts BQA tips to work in his veterinary practice and with their own cow herd. “I felt we must be at the forefront of BQA training, and through our practice I’ve shared benefits of BQA.”
Recently, Mike and Anne were recognized for their leadership in bringing the BQA principles to Texas ranchers, veterinarians and students as the 2014 national BQA award winners. Along with their veterinary practice, they own and operate TZ Cattle Company, an integrated Santa Gertrudis cow-calf operation, which produces terminal cross calves utilizing both Angus and Hereford genetics to produce high quality carcasses. “The Santa Gertrudis breed is necessary in our climate,” says Mike, “and its hybrid vigor adds to growth and carcass value.”
Calves are preconditioned using a modified VAC-45 program, raised on grass to 800 pounds then sent on to the feedlot, where the cattle are then sold on a grid basis or contracted on a natural program. All the calves are age-, process- and source-verified for natural and export markets.
From their personal experience, the Wirtz realize that the BQA program can help enhance carcass values due to reduced sickness and the need for treatment. Safe handling techniques reduce stress, which helps increase cattle gains and reduce bruising and helps to produce a quality beef product.
“As a practicing large animal veterinarian and producer, we started by training our staff about animal care and handling, proper vaccination techniques, vaccine handling and record keeping,” says Mike. “At the clinic and the ranch, we have good facilities, we follow label directions on medications and we protect vaccines from the elements. Any animal transportation is in clean, uncrowded trailers. All hot-shots have been retired. So, what is unique? Through my practice, I have trained, or at least exposed, many veterinarians, clients, and fellow ranchers to the benefits of BQA, and that’s a good thing.”