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Cattle producers sought for age and source verification

James Odermann,
On behalf of the North Dakota Beef Cattle Improvement Association
Courtesy photoJim Erickson, owner, Stockmen's Livestock in Dickinson, ND.

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DICKINSON, ND – Beef production and technology continue to grow closer as producers seek to evaluate performance and qualify annual production for international markets. Source- and age-verification is a management tool needed to gain access to worldwide markets.

Since 2005, the North Dakota Beef Cattle Improvement Association (NDBCIA) has provided source- and age-verification for beef producers. CalfAID, a USDA Process Verified Program, has source- and age-verified (SAV) calves in the past six years.

The concept of SAV cattle is growing. Stockmen’s Livestock owner Jim Erickson of Dickinson, ND, said the demand for SAV cattle is there. “This is more than a want. It is a need,” he told NDBCIA board of directors. “There are a lot of feedlots that are sending cattle to different places and they cannot unless the cattle are (source and age) verified.”

Presently CalfAID is one of many USDA Process Verified Programs for beef production. Record keeping and electronic technology is part of this process in many cases.

“Source- and age-verification is a process in which producers attest to the stock they sell,” said NDBCIA Executive Secretary Dr. Kris Ringwall. “In CalfAID, producers keep a calving book that details birth dates, visual identification and electronic identification.”

Mick Riesinger, biosecurity specialist with the Dickinson Research Extension Center and a member of the CalfAID team, said the SAV designation involves the implementation of technology into each individual calf. “With CalfAID, as with the majority of SAV programs, calves are required to have a VID (visual identification) and an EID (electronic identification).” Producers can use low frequency or high frequency EID tags.

The CalfAID team has conducted extensive research on various electronic tagging options for beef cattle. The team began with half and full duplex low frequency tags and then graduated to UHF (ultra high frequency) tags.

The low frequency tags, which are the least expensive and most often used by producers, require “wand or stationary readers that are within six to 12 inches of the tag” according to Riesinger. In most cases, the animals need to be restrained or moved very slowly through what he called “portal readers,” which are stationary mounted readers that need to be within six to 12 inches of the tag the animal has in its ear.

Early research data collected by the Dickinson Research Extension Center (DREC) and the NDBCIA involved several thousand head of cattle. The research team followed calves from the ranch to the harvest floor. A high frequency pilot project in 2010 involved nearly 8,500 calves.

The DREC research showed nearly 100 percent read rates on beef cattle with high frequency tags as they were “walking through alley ways, in and out of pens,” according to Riesinger. The high frequency tags also allowed cattle to be moved at their normal speeds. “This was good because we did not have to catch or restrain cattle,” he said.

“The ultra high frequency (UHF) tags are read by a handheld computer device,” Riesinger said. “It is much like the inventory control readers you would see in a store like Walmart. The reader needs to have radio frequency identification (RFID) software installed.

There are many uses for the UHF tags, according to Riesinger. “Since producers can read from as far away as 30 feet, it is possible that one could ride through his herd and do an inventory count using the handheld computer.”

Erickson said the key issue with SAV calves is the paperwork. He urged producers “to get records in here (NDBCIA office) in June…”

Calves can be SAV as soon as they are tagged and records submitted. Ringwall said, “Calves only need to be source- and age-verified once. The designation stays with the calf for its lifetime.”

Erickson said, “CalfAID is a nice program and everything that I have seen is that it is good… Now is the time to get the ball rolling. Let’s do it now rather than be behind (at marketing time in the fall).”

DICKINSON, ND – Beef production and technology continue to grow closer as producers seek to evaluate performance and qualify annual production for international markets. Source- and age-verification is a management tool needed to gain access to worldwide markets.

Since 2005, the North Dakota Beef Cattle Improvement Association (NDBCIA) has provided source- and age-verification for beef producers. CalfAID, a USDA Process Verified Program, has source- and age-verified (SAV) calves in the past six years.

The concept of SAV cattle is growing. Stockmen’s Livestock owner Jim Erickson of Dickinson, ND, said the demand for SAV cattle is there. “This is more than a want. It is a need,” he told NDBCIA board of directors. “There are a lot of feedlots that are sending cattle to different places and they cannot unless the cattle are (source and age) verified.”

Presently CalfAID is one of many USDA Process Verified Programs for beef production. Record keeping and electronic technology is part of this process in many cases.

“Source- and age-verification is a process in which producers attest to the stock they sell,” said NDBCIA Executive Secretary Dr. Kris Ringwall. “In CalfAID, producers keep a calving book that details birth dates, visual identification and electronic identification.”

Mick Riesinger, biosecurity specialist with the Dickinson Research Extension Center and a member of the CalfAID team, said the SAV designation involves the implementation of technology into each individual calf. “With CalfAID, as with the majority of SAV programs, calves are required to have a VID (visual identification) and an EID (electronic identification).” Producers can use low frequency or high frequency EID tags.

The CalfAID team has conducted extensive research on various electronic tagging options for beef cattle. The team began with half and full duplex low frequency tags and then graduated to UHF (ultra high frequency) tags.

The low frequency tags, which are the least expensive and most often used by producers, require “wand or stationary readers that are within six to 12 inches of the tag” according to Riesinger. In most cases, the animals need to be restrained or moved very slowly through what he called “portal readers,” which are stationary mounted readers that need to be within six to 12 inches of the tag the animal has in its ear.

Early research data collected by the Dickinson Research Extension Center (DREC) and the NDBCIA involved several thousand head of cattle. The research team followed calves from the ranch to the harvest floor. A high frequency pilot project in 2010 involved nearly 8,500 calves.

The DREC research showed nearly 100 percent read rates on beef cattle with high frequency tags as they were “walking through alley ways, in and out of pens,” according to Riesinger. The high frequency tags also allowed cattle to be moved at their normal speeds. “This was good because we did not have to catch or restrain cattle,” he said.

“The ultra high frequency (UHF) tags are read by a handheld computer device,” Riesinger said. “It is much like the inventory control readers you would see in a store like Walmart. The reader needs to have radio frequency identification (RFID) software installed.

There are many uses for the UHF tags, according to Riesinger. “Since producers can read from as far away as 30 feet, it is possible that one could ride through his herd and do an inventory count using the handheld computer.”

Erickson said the key issue with SAV calves is the paperwork. He urged producers “to get records in here (NDBCIA office) in June…”

Calves can be SAV as soon as they are tagged and records submitted. Ringwall said, “Calves only need to be source- and age-verified once. The designation stays with the calf for its lifetime.”

Erickson said, “CalfAID is a nice program and everything that I have seen is that it is good… Now is the time to get the ball rolling. Let’s do it now rather than be behind (at marketing time in the fall).”


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