It’s time for commercial cattlemen to be rewarded for raising superior performing cattle – minus the risk. With the launch of Hereford Verified, marketing Hereford and Hereford-influenced cattle is now a more profitable and reliable means of taking cattle to their end point.
The American Hereford Association (AHA) and Certified Hereford Beef LLC’s (CHB LLC) new source verification program brings together all facets of the beef supply chain. Hereford Verified creates an open market, reliable supply of Certified Hereford Beef-eligible cattle and pays real premiums to program participants.
The Hereford Verified Network will allow commercial cattle producers to receive traditional alliance benefits such as an open market, information and premiums without the risk of owning stock or feeding cattle.
“It is the only source verification program of its kind in which producers will be able to gain rewards for performing cattle and also will be rewarded for loyalty to the Hereford Verified program,” says Jim Williams, CHB LLC vice president of supply.
Hereford Verified is about more than product traceability. Its network will engage commercial cattle producers to use the supply of superior genetics from Hereford seedstock producers who raise proven stock. “For those who embrace this source and age ID program, they will see added value for their Hereford bulls and females,” Williams adds.
As the program moves forward, CHB LLC and its partners throughout the chain will be able to deliver genetic, source and age documented beef to the retailer’s door. The pull-through demand that Hereford Verified creates is linking progressive food marketers to the genetic tools and products of the breed.
“Hereford Verified is the most progressive and ambitious initiative the Hereford breed has undertaken in 10 years,” says Rob Ames, CHB LLC executive vice president. “It is a real and powerful application for producers, feeders, packers and retailers that want to be at the forefront of the beef industry.”
National Beef Packing Co., LLC will be harvesting all the cattle going through the program. “Hereford Verified will help us ensure a core predictable supply of cattle that meet Certified Hereford Beef specifications,” says Art Wagner, National Beef Packing Co. vice president of cattle procurement. “Our goal is to develop supply and at the same time be able to get information back to the cow-calf producers that will help them further improve Hereford-based animal performance and efficiency.”
The program has two levels of involvement: the Yellow Tag program that tracks genetic, source and age, and the Green Tag program that only accounts for source and age. Green Tag program participants qualify for $2-3 head bonus while the participants in the Yellow Tag program enjoy $2-6 per head.
All Hereford Verified program participants qualify for direct marketing to CHB LLC preferred feeders; receive carcass performance data and benchmarking; obtain feedlot performance data and benchmarking; and have the option of individual carcass data at a discounted price.
On a per lot basis, producers will automatically receive a benchmarking report with health cost, ADG, feed conversion and dressing percentage. For $2/head, producers have the option to purchase individual hot carcass weight, quality and yield grade and individual animal RFID. Detailed data will be provided for $4/head and also provides individual carcass measurements and individual percent retail product.
AHA and CHB LLC will serve as coordinators for the networking group, including enrolling producers in the program, gathering information and distributing RFID tags. They also will distribute qualification bonuses to participating producers.
Participating in the program follows eight steps, with each step of the way creating value to Hereford and Hereford-influenced cattle. The first step is enrolling the cattle and completing the online enrollment form at www.herefordverified.com followed by purchasing Destron or Allflex RFID tags to identify enrolled cattle.
To participate in the program, cow-calf producers must assemble 50,000 lb. of the same sex, uniform weight cattle. The calved must meet the live animal requirements for Certified Hereford Beef, including a predominant white face and only English-bred steers and heifers.
Once cattle are enrolled, the information, including contact information and cattle description, will be distributed to all participating Hereford Verified feeders. It is the producers’ responsibility to contact these feedyards and/or their buying representative to negotiate price and delivery terms. The participating feedlots are located in Nebraska and Kansas and total a daily capacity of 1 million head on feed. The network feedlots are committed to delivering a quota of program-eligible cattle to the packer.
North Platte Feeders has been feeding Hereford cattle since the beginning of the Certified Hereford Beef program 10 years ago. “We like feeding Hereford and Hereford-influenced cattle: day in and day out we see performance and predictability in the Herefords that we don’t see in commodity cattle,” says Turk Stovall of North Platte Feeders. “As a program participant, we will have more access to Hereford breeders. Of all the programs we are involved with, Hereford Verified is the only one that economically rewards producers and the feeder for performance, quality and dedication.”
When cattle arrive at the feedlot all RFID tags are read and general lot information is recorded. Once the RFID identified calves are on feed, producers sign an affidavit validating the source, age and genetic claims of the program. During the cattle feeding phase, the feedlot will make a record of all performance data including: pay weight, days on feed, average daily gain, dry matter conversion and health costs to share with the Hereford Verified clearinghouse.
Feedyards will earn a premium of $10-12 per head above the weekly cash market as program specifications are met. The feedyards aren’t the only part of the equation that will see rewards from the system. Producer bonuses are paid on RFID matches that were sourced from a Hereford Verified feedlot and harvested under an approved Packer Lot Number.
The Hereford Verified chain meets the demands of a rapidly changing beef industry. It brings added value, more reliable supply and an even higher quality product for consumers. For more information about the Hereford Verified program, visit www.herefordverified.com or call (816) 842-3758.