John Maas, UC-Davis extension veterinarian, BQA Advisory Board member and cattleman was the perfect candidate to take the newly released BQA Cow-Calf Assessment to the field and find its practical applications for veterinarians and cattle producers. This past summer, he conducted his own four-ranch practicum in California. The ranches varied in size, ownership, facilities and management practices ― from a 100-head purebred, family operated herd with full-health prevention protocols to a 2,500-head commercial herd with a number of ranch locations, employees and excellent record keeping. John got a “real-world” feel for how the assessment could be implemented in an everyday veterinarian clinic.

The three-tiered, Beef Quality Assurance Cow-Calf Assessment is a producer-led initiative developed as an on-site educational tool for benchmarking key factors of animal care, record keeping, facilities and management protocols and provides the basis for developing personalized plans for continuous quality improvement. The goal of the checkoff-funded effort is to help create a higher level of trust with consumers.

In working through the assessment with these varied ranching operations, Maas realized the tool is a good first step to evaluating and recording management practices. “As I worked with each ranch I realized the assessment was a starting point for understanding a ranch’s priorities and skill set. For example, for some ranches, cattle handling rose to the top. But all of the ranches were interested in how they could improve animal care.”

What value can the assessment bring to your practice?

The BQA Cow-Calf Assessment is a good tool to use when working with a new client to understand the operation’s strengths, goals and areas for improvement. “As I talked with each rancher about his operation’s health programs, training and animal care protocols, I got a better understanding of the operation’s management practices and how those were implemented on a daily basis,” said Maas. “I also understood more about their resource base, particularly time and labor, in order to put together a herd health plan including new BPMs and how I, as a veterinarian, could offer my services to bring those new practices to fruition.”

To learn more about the BQA Cow-Calf Assessment, visit the resource section at

Funded by the Beef Checkoff.