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From: TSS ()
Subject: National Animal ID System Highlighted at Beef Cattle Short Course
Date: August 3, 2005 at 11:18 am PST

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Aug. 2, 2005
National Animal ID System Highlighted at Beef Cattle Short Course
Writers: Blair Fannin, (979) 845-2259,
Edith Chenault, (979) 845-2886,
Contact: Dr. Ted McCollum, (806) 677-5600,

COLLEGE STATION - Beef producers attending the Texas A&M University
Beef Cattle Short Course here Monday heard the latest information about
the National Animal Identification System.
Dr. Ted McCollum, Texas Cooperative Extension beef cattle specialist
from Amarillo, led off the afternoon's session on "Improving Profit with
Animal Identification."
McCollum stressed the importance of distinguishing what the animal
identification system is and not confusing it with other programs.
"The National Animal Identification System is focused on animal
tracking and disease control," he said. "Within a 48-hour period, the
system is designed to trace back and find where that animal has been and
what other animals its been associated with."
About 1,400 people are attending the 51st short course, which continues
through Wednesday on the Texas A&M campus.
McCollum said a national animal identification plan had been in the
beginning stages long before the first discovery of mad cow disease in the
United States in December 2003. He also noted the identification system is
not just for beef cattle, but for other livestock, including swine and
The national system won't be fully implemented until 2008, but McCollum
urged ranchers to begin registering with the Texas Animal Health
Commission for a "premise"identification number. That number will help
officials locate the ranch where the animal originated, he said.
Producers also need to become familiar with the electronic ear tag
identification technology that is proposed as part of the system, McCollum
said. Those tags in the ears of cattle will add value to their operations.
"Keeping records, maintaining information from those tags can become
important if you hope to derive some benefit from those tags," McCollum
said, adding that good production records lead to improved management.
The tag will work much like a vehicle identification number, McCollum
said. The number can be used in a variety of ways to keep data on a
certain animal. Armed with production and health records on their cattle,
ranchers can market those cattle at speciality sales and expect to receive
a premium for source-verified beef.
Travis Choat of Packerland Packing in Green Bay, Wis., told producers
attending the course that McDonald's and other large companies are paying
a premium for source-verified cattle.
But the current problem is volume, he said..A minimum of 40,000 pounds
(140 pounds of trim per head) is needed to meet that goal.
His company is positioning itself to participate more in markets that
require "traceability" or methods to trace the animal back to its origin
on the ranch, he said.
Jim Schwertner, with Capitol Land and Livestock Co. in Schwertner, told
the audience that several studies have shown genetics - not breed - is the
key to qualities such as tenderness and yield grade.
"DNA is the key," Schwertner said.
He also said source verification will help producers track how their
cattle performs for those traits.
"As soon as we have the identification, you'll be able to get the
information back," he said.
Schwertner advised cattle producers to urge their congressional
representatives to pass limited liability legislation. Such legislation
would limit the liability producers could face in the event of a disease
outbreak, he said.
If legislation is not passed, "It's going to be a trial lawyers'
paradise," he said.
"If we don't stay with the times and aren't prepared, drastic things
might happen," Schwertner added.
He also reminded producers to keep the consumer in mind when raising
"The consumer is the key, and if you forget that, you need to get out
of the cattle business," he said.
Consumers forgave the cattle industry for three incidences of mad cow
disease and kept buying beef, but that won't happen every time, he said.
"You'd better not make mistakes," Schwertner said. "You need to get
(quality) information back."
About half of the short course participants have attended before, said
Dr. Larry Boleman, assistant vice chancellor at Texas A&M University and
conference coordinator.
About 1 percent to 2 percent of the total participants travel to the
short course from other countries, and 3 percent to 4 percent come from
other states, Boleman said.
Only 10 percent of the attendees make their living solely from
livestock, he said. The others have full-time employment elsewhere and
raise cattle for a secondary income.
One of the best parts of the short course is the trade show, Boleman
This year's short course has 104 exhibitors inside A&M's Rudder Tower
and 10 who are exhibiting equipment, pens and livestock outside the
The educational experience the participants have goes a long way, he
said. The attendees will go home and tell their neighbors about what they
"They're considered leaders in their neighborhoods," he said.
The short course is being blogged at .



i cannot believe, some 20 to 25 years into the BSE/TSE mad cow saga,
we are even still disgussing this issue in 2005, with 2009 being the projected date. i just dont understand ;-(T$$)

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