WVDA, WVU announce pilot project to improve W.Va. beef cattle

CHARLESTON – The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) has announced a pilot project to help increase value of West Virginia cattle by improving cattle vigor prior to entering production channels. The project will examine available preconditioning methods, enhancing overall herd health, the use of electronic identification tags and utilizing a unified approach with producer engagement. The project is a joint effort between the WVDA and WVU Extension Service.

“We hope a combined effort between the WVDA, WVU Extension Service and livestock markets will prove positive results for West Virginia beef cattle production,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt. “Our goal is to enhance the quality of the beef coming out of the Mountain State. We hope to engage cattle producers, as well as industry stakeholders as part of this project.”

The pilot project will emphasize utilizing established Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) standards and encouraging producer and herd certification through educational seminars by subject-matter-experts. These seminars will focus on a wide range of beef cattle production topics including electronic identification for cattle, the importance of traceability enhancement and record-keeping accuracy, targeted testing for production cattle diseases, how to increase biosecurity opportunities for emergency preparedness and disease prevention and other potential herd management elements.

“The idea for the pilot project originated from presentations and discussions during Commissioner Leonhardt’s annual Livestock Market meeting in May. Stakeholders focused a lot on how to increase consumer demand, as well as growing industry trends requiring beef products be sourced from only Beef Quality Assurance certified producers or herds,” said State Veterinarian Dr. James Maxwell. “Programs, such as this pilot project, are designed to provide producers with new information through demonstrations to increase quality and value of cattle sold.”

Targeted sampling and seminars are slated to begin in July at the Jackson County Regional Livestock Market. Jackson County Regional Livestock Market’s proprietor Roger Mitchell, who is also President of West Virginia Livestock Market Association, offered to host the pilot project after discussions in May. If the pilot project is successful, it could be expanded to other approved tagging sites, livestock markets and other areas of the state.

For any questions or interest in this project, contact the WVDA’s Animal Health Division at 304-558-2214.

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