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Livestock

Age and Source, Dollars captured through WBC program

Producers planning to implement an age and source verification program in 2010 can do so through The Wyoming Business Council’s (WBC) program. The WBC works through the AgInfoLink’s USDA Process Verified Program, which is relatively simple to implement according to WBC Livestock and Meat Marketing Manager John Henn.
“The process with our program starts by setting up an appointment for an onsite enrollment process. After we verify calving records we go through the details of the program and the next step for the producer is getting program compliance (RFID) tags and putting them in the calves,” explains Henn.
Calving records can be as simple as a note on the calendar marking the first day of calving, which is the minimum amount of documentation necessary for a verification program. Henn adds that almost all producers already have this date written down somewhere.
Additional producer responsibilities include purchasing tags, putting tags in cattle and verifying to him the cattle with tags. Tags cost $1.75 each through the WBC program and there is an enrollment fee of 75 cents per head enrolled. The WBC provides ranch enrollment and the onsite audit as a service to producers.
RFID tags have 15-digit numbers and can be uploaded with birthdates and a number. The tags contain a chip that contains the tag number and can be scanned throughout the animal’s life. This information is also put in a database to allow tracing if there was ever a concern related to the cattle. The WBC works with AgInfoLink for the age and source verification.
If producers don’t already have a USDA premises number, Henn can provide a location number for the program during the onsite audit. This number includes a rancher’s contact information and physical address. Ranchers can also call the Wyoming Livestock Board and get a Premises Identification Number (PIN) for their operation.
“The benefit is for feedlots that sell cattle to packers with age verification. The interest for those buyers will be calves that are certified. Packers are paying premiums for cattle that are age verified for Japan. Premiums from packers will vary depending on packer, supply, demand and time of year. The premiums usually range from $10 to $60 per head,” explains Henn.
However, not every buyer is looking for age verification. Those running cattle over on grass won’t be because their cattle are over 20 months of age when they are finished. Henn notes that interest in verified cattle will depend on what the buyer plans to do with them.
“If a producer knows where his calves are going and if buyers are looking to run them as yearlings, there’s really no added value. But, it’s something they can do that they already have the information for. The only extra things are purchasing tags, placing them in the calves and enrolling cattle. It doesn’t take very much additional bidding activity to get their money back,” explains Henn.
“The markets and buyers dictate the value based on production practices and quality. There are a number of layers of added value for calves like genetics, reputation, pre-conditioning and health programs. Age and source verification is another layer of potential added value,” explains Henn.
In 2009 the WBC’s verified program audited and enrolled 49 new producers, bringing total producer enrollment to 157 since it started in 2006. Over 50,000 Wyoming produced calves were enrolled, up about 10,000 head from 2008. 
“A number of enrolled producers did see an increase in market value due to verification,” says Henn.
Henn will add to the program a calf nutrition verification claim for pre-weaning or post-weaning nutrition based on the inclusion of organic trace minerals. He also does natural and BVD-PI Free verification for producers on an independent basis. 
Listing the cattle for sale at www.wyobeef.com promotes and markets the animals for potential buyers to review. 
“The key is to make it successful for everyone and capture additional value dollars,” says Henn.
For more information contact John Henn at 307-777-2847.  Heather Hamilton is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.