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Pilot Project Uses High-frequency Electronic Identification

Source and age verification in the beef industry is the result of requests by consumers to know where their food is coming from.

Beef producers will be able to use high-frequency electronic identification tags on their 2010 calf crop as part of a pilot project by the North Dakota Beef Cattle Improvement Association. The NDBCIA is initiating the project immediately.

The project is an extension of CalfAID, a U.S. Department of Agriculture process verified program (PVP) that allows producers to source and age verify their calves. The research project is a joint project by the North Dakota State University Dickinson Research Extension Center and NDBCIA.

“Our goal is to have 10,000 calves involved in the project,” says Kris Ringwall, NDBCIA executive secretary and Dickinson REC director. “The investment in data processing will provide producers with a high-frequency electronic identification tag, visual identification tag and document of record regarding source and age verification.”

The document of record is necessary for producers to source and age verify their 2010 calf crop. Marketing professionals advise that source and age verified cattle do expand the opportunity to sell calves to a broader market.

In addition, producers will have an opportunity to utilize the power of the CalfAID PVP through the Cow Herd Appraisal Performance Software (CHAPS) system. CHAPS helps producers with individual calf, cow and sire evaluations and provides herd recordkeeping, which are useful in herd management decisions.

“Source and age verification in the beef industry is the result of requests by consumers to know where their food is coming from,” Ringwall says. “CalfAID helps make the connection between the producer and the consumer.”

The high-frequency electronic tag interface is part of a regular cattle tag. A major benefit of the high-frequency tag is that calves can be read more quickly and at distances of 15 to 30 feet. The new tag speeds read time and accuracy.

“The concept is to make it possible to read tags at the speed producers market their cattle,” says Mick Riesinger, biosecurity livestock research specialist at the Dickinson REC. “While cattle identification is not a new producer management tool, the marriage of cattle tags and high-frequency expands horizons. We can read the new tags with near- perfect accuracy as the cattle move through chutes and off and on trucks.

“High-frequency tags take beef production, management and marketing to a new level because we can collect data on calves at the speed of commerce,” he adds. “This new technology can eliminate the need to individually catch and restrain animals.”

Usage of the system through CalfAID will give producers additional marketing opportunities, especially internationally.

“One of the most often asked questions today by consumers is where the food came from,” Ringwall says. “CalfAID helps producers provide the answer to that question. CalfAID follows beef animals from the ranch to the consumer’s plate, but protects the producer’s privacy while assuring consumer confidence.”

In addition, data collected throughout this process measures herd performance, which gives producers benchmarks to evaluate genetic and management progress.

“The tags are included in the (data) processing fee,” says Chad Smith, Dickinson REC research specialist and CalfAID cattle tracker. “Calves that follow the protocol are source and age verified, which means they are available for worldwide sales.”

Smith is part of a team of researchers at the DREC seeking to add value and sees the potential to add value as an opportunity to bolster the economy of rural areas and directly connect producers with consumers.

“The relationship between producers and consumers is the key to rural revitalization,” Ringwall says. “We need to make the connection, establish the relationship and ensure consumer confidence.” Ringwall said.

Individuals wanting more information or to participate in the program should contact the NDBCIA Office by e-mail at; phone (701) 483-2348, ext. 105; or writing to NDBCIA, 1041 State Ave., Dickinson, ND 58601.

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Chad Smith, (701) 573-4553,
Source:Mick Riesinger, (701) 483-2348, ext. 102,
Source:Kris Ringwall, (701) 483-2348, ext. 103,
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,
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