Steps to an easier Process Verified Program
It’s a new year, and Kentucky producers are nearly through their first sale season under the new Process Verified Program (PVP) administered by Integrated Traceability Solutions (ITS). As with any new program or process, there have been some bumps in the road as everyone involved in the process (ITS, extension, sale barns and producers) was learning how to use a new process at the most hectic time of the year, the fall sale season. Each of the above mentioned groups plays a vital role in making the PVP process work and not one of those four entities can independently verify a set of cattle. That said, we as extension educators can only affect our part of the process and have confidence that all other parties will do the same. The following are some areas that extension can play a role in helping the PVP process go more smoothly.
Determining if a producer is a good candidate for PVP
Many problems can be avoided by simply identifying whether a producer is a good candidate for PVP marketing. The ideal candidate for PVP has a defined calving season, identifies their cows and calves, and records individual birthdates of calves. The farther we drift from the ideal situation, the more challenging it is to PVP the cattle. The minimum information needed to PVP calves is a beginning birth date and an ending birth date for a defined group of calves. Always ask the following questions when trying to determine if a producer can PVP their calves.
• Do you have a defined calving season or does the bull stay with the herd year-round?
• Do you identify/tag your cows?
• Do you identify/tag your calves?
• Do you record the birth dates of every calf born?
• Do you record the birth dates of the first calf and the last calf born?
A combination of a defined calving season and proper identification are the most important factors to look for in assessing the PVP potential of a producer. Here are some less than ideal real world situations you may run into:
Situation 1. Producer calves year-round and does not identify his calves but does record on a calendar every time a cow calves.
He will not be able to PVP his calves because there is no way to definitively tie a birth date to a particular calf that is running with other calves of various ages. In other words, there is no defined group. To become eligible for PVP in the future, this producer could divide the year into at least four time periods and tag calves in each time period with a different color tag or different number series. A birth date range must then be assigned for each group. For example, calves in the green ear tag group were born between Jan. 1, 2010, and March 31, 2010.
Situation 2. Producer has one defined calving season. The bull is run with the herd only 90 days per year. He does not tag his calves or cows. He does record in a calendar when his first calf is born and when his last calf is born.
This producer can PVP his calves because he has a defined group and has recorded the first and last birth date. He should be encouraged to tag his cows and calves in the future.
Situation 3. Producer has two defined calving seasons (spring and fall). His cows are identified but he does not tag his calves. He records the date when each cow calves. The fall calving herd and the spring calving herd are run separately in two different fields but have fence line contact.
This producer cannot PVP his cattle because his herds could potentially become mixed and his calves are not identified. This producer could PVP his calves if the herds were on separate farms and had no way of mixing or if he tagged his calves.
Improving the timeliness of PVP applications
Another area where extension can play a positive role is improving the timeliness of PVP applications.
ITS requires that applications should be received no later than two weeks before the marketing of the cattle. During the fall sale season, this may not even be enough time to process the application without sale day heartburn and last-minute phone audits. The last thing we want to happen is have a PVP application rejected within days of a sale.
To avoid these issues, we should try and take advantage of what I call “off-season verification.” This is where producers can send in the ITSKIT 100 application as soon as the last calf is born in the calving season or group they wish to certify. For instance, right now would be an excellent time for producers with fall calving herds to certify their calves. By now, all of your fall calves are born and the workload at the ITS office is much lower than prior to a sale. You also do not have to buy your tags at the time of application, therefore keeping your marketing options open until closer to sale date. Producers with both fall and spring calving groups could actually certify both calving groups on one application, if they wait until their last spring calf is born. The fall calf crop could be listed as group 1 and the spring calf crop as group 2 on page eight of the ITS KIT. Then your entire year’s marketing could be certified with one application and one phone audit. We plan to encourage off-season verification at beef meetings in western Kentucky between now and next August to help beat the rush. — Kevin Laurent, Beef Extension Associate, University of Kentucky