‘BVD-PI Free’ claim added to marketing toolsWritten by Jennifer Womack
Business Council expands 'Wyoming Verified' program
Cheyenne – Verifying calves as “BVD-PI Free” is the newest opportunity in a Wyoming Business Council Agribusiness Division (WBC) program that allows ranchers to set their calves apart from the herd, so to speak.
Cattle that are persistently infected (PI) with Bovine Viral Diarrhea (BVD) cost American feedlots billions of dollars annually. Feedlots, according to WBC Livestock and Meat Marketing Program Manager John Henn, say they’re more interested in those cattle that they know are free of BVD-PI cattle. Ranchers, according to Henn, would carry out the testing through their local veterinarian or a lab that offers such services. Testing costs average between $3.50 and $4.50 a head.
The BVD-PI Free claim builds on a larger program called Wyoming Verified that Henn started a few years back. In addition to source and age verification, the program offers a natural claim.
“There really hasn’t been a market test,” says Henn of what might be the added value for ensuring one’s cattle are BVD-PI free. Others, like Superior Livestock, have announced similar programs but calves haven’t yet been marketed under the new claims.
“It really goes good with the natural verification,” says Henn of BVD-PI negative testing, “because natural meat companies and the feedlots that feed natural cattle are showing a high level of interest in BVD-PI free calves because it decreases the number of fall-outs they have.” Any cattle that require treatment become ineligible for marketing as natural.
Participants in WBC’s Wyoming Verified program have been receiving added value. “Of the 16,000 plus calves enrolled in 2007,” he says, “the average added value of verified cattle was $13.65 per head.”
Henn works with producers to audit records to ensure the cattle’s source, age and natural claims. Those producers who participate in the BVD-PI Free claim program would take part in a similar audit process where the test results on their cattle were reviewed.
“I think source and age verified, for marketing purposes domestically and abroad, is going to become and more in demand by buyers,” says Henn.