Gant Mourer, working with Oklahoma State University animal scientists and the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association, is helping state cattle producers get more money for their cattle when they go to market.

Mourer, OSU beef enhancement specialist, explained the program at the recent OCA state convention in Oklahoma City. He is responsible for the Oklahoma Quality Beef Network (OQBN), a program partially funded by the OCA.

Since 2001, OSU has led the VAC 45 program where calves are given all their vaccinations to keep them healthy and are weaned for 45 days before being sent on to the next step in the cattle production chain.

"Under this program," Mourer said, "ranchers' calves are verified by OSU Extension county directors before they are marketed."

Economists report the program yields 600-pound calves bringing a premium of $5.43 per hundredweight. Cattle certified in the VAC 45 program bring a $12.50 per hundredweight premium, he said. Statistics derived from surveys conducted by Mourer indicate ranchers with cattle in the program make a profit 62 percent of the time. "Figured on the average," Mourer said, "the profit is $35 per head."

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Cattle in the VAC 45 program have been found to make a profit 80 percent of the time compared to calves going through the sale on the same day without any backgrounding, Mourer said. Again, on the average that means an extra $70 per head received by owners participating in the program.