CattleTrace said it continues to expand its footprint by partnering with producers and organizations that share the vision of developing a more robust disease traceability system on the beef industry’s terms. Beef Northwest, a cattle feeding operation with locations in Washington and Oregon, is now a partner in CattleTrace, adding a new perspective and providing the opportunity for additional feedback on the program.
CattleTrace Inc. is a public/private partnership designed to develop and test a purpose-built cattle disease traceability infrastructure in Kansas with the intention of guiding development of a nationwide livestock disease traceability program. It was formally established in late August 2018 as a private, not-for-profit corporation to securely maintain and manage the data collected as part of the disease traceability pilot project.
Mike John, director of the MFA Health Track program, said, “I have spent the last 20 years helping producers document practices that add value to the cattle they sell. It has been a proactive choice, not a mandate, that has included traceability. The power of being able to verify what we ‘did’ is greater than what we ‘did not do.’”
John explained that in the sale barn, there are typically producers who will stand up, identify themselves and proudly talk about their cattle for sale that day, while others just drop off their cattle and prefer anonymity as their selling tool.
“Up until recently, there hasn’t been much difference in how either of them sold. I believe those days are about to end and the producers who are willing to stand behind their product will have more leverage in consumer-focused markets,” John said. “CattleTrace allows producers to stand behind their product and not have their information freely shared without private oversight and permission. That provides tremendous value to individual producers and to the entire industry.”
CattleTrace is approaching the goal of distributing 55,000 tags in Kansas and is seeking additional partners at the backgrounder and cow/calf levels throughout this next year. The program targets producers who conduct business at a partner livestock market or feedyard to ensure that multiple reads, or sightings, are captured for those animals.
In order to build a data set to test during the two-year pilot, CattleTrace said three key production scenarios have been identified to allocate the 55,000 tags in a purposeful way that will enhance the likelihood of sighting animals at multiple points of commingling. The three scenarios are:
1. Whole path – Tag calves at the cow/calf segment before the first point of commingling. Ideally, all cattle would be tagged at the ranch of origin, but only a percentage would likely end up at partner livestock markets.
2. Direct buy – Working with partner feedyards to identify cow/calf producers and/or backgrounders to tag cattle before they arrive at the feedyard.
3. Livestock markets – Tag calves after they go through the sale ring at a livestock market, knowing that they were purchased by a partner feedyard.
So far, the company has distributed nearly 43,000 tags. Discussions are currently underway in Idaho, Texas, Colorado, Minnesota and Wisconsin.