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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Technology Upgrade: EID Tag Reader

At our feedyard we handle many groups of age and source verified cattle. Good News: This is a great program that is gaining momentum and increasing guaranteed premiums for producers. Bad News: This is just another set of paperwork and thought processes I have to go through as a receiver in the feedyard.

I remember just a few years ago where a state extension cattle specialist came to our county Cattleman's meeting to promote the idea of Age and Source Verifying cattle for premiums at time of marketing. Problem was at the time there were little to no guaranteed premiums for producers efforts. The extension specialist tried to convince these ole cattlemen, who had just filled up on a Choice Sirloin, that their $4 spent on a tag would be a good investment, but could not guarantee a premium. Of course older cattlemen can be a stubborn type, set in their ways, and a contrary to the slightest mention of change. Myself, I could see their point of view. Why pay some company to send me a tag with a serial number in exchange for untold amounts of paperwork and the added labor, without a guarantee of any added premium whatsoever for my efforts. Needless to say, that sales pitch did not go over so well and not one producer signed up for the program.
This gives you an idea of current models of EID tag readers. Click here to learn more about the Readers

A few years later I find myself working in the feedyard and realizing that not all things are what they seem and given time some programs can have a chance to improve. I am far from knowing all the details, but I now realize the A&S program is not near as scary as it first seemed.
  1. The record keeping for the age verification can be as simple as jotting down the birth date of the oldest and youngest animal in the group.
  2. Much of the effort does not fall on the producer. The tags can be placed in the animal's ear when it leaves it's first premise.
  3. The paper work process falls mostly upon the buyers (i.e. feedyards, stockers, backgrounders, auction barns) who may participate in the program more frequently and can easily have a system in place to handle processing the paper work.
  4. Premiums for A&S cattle are more frequent than they were just a few years ago thanks to increase international trade and increased consumer interest in knowing more about their food.
The EID tag reader is very simple to use. Every time we process cattle I collect the tag data by waving the wand over the calf's ear, waiting for the green light, and we're good to go. It does not take much time and I can still help to push calves into the chute. The wand I have been using is one of the first versions of the model released by Allflex and today my tag numbers did not download. We called our Rep and when I read him the serial number, he found that our wand was purchased in 2005 and several versions behind the current product. They did not even have an update for my model any longer. Guess that shows you the speed of technology these days. But for a few hundred dollars we can purchase a new reader and be back on track. (Keep in mind this is a small investment for an operation that runs several hundred A&S cattle each year and it is an investment that producers do not have to make to participate in the program.)

So to get back to the point, producers should not be afraid to look into new programs that can offer premiums for their livestock. A small investment now can turn into a big return later, especially with growing global demand in today's meat markets. So to those ole cattlemen back home who were skeptical of that extension specialist's plan to make them more money.....take another look. You might like how things have changed in just a few short years.

Until next time,
ARranchhand