Manitoba cattle producers will get help from their own association in age verifying calves to make sure Alberta feedlots will buy them.
The Manitoba Cattle Producers Association will hire a full-time field representative to travel the province and help producers age verify their cattle.
“It’s responsible for a cattle producer’s association to help producers reach those markets in Alberta,” said Jay Fox, MCPA’s production management chair.
MCPA is partnering with the Manitoba Livestock Marketing Association (MLMA) in the project.
Alberta is the only province to require age verification for cattle, although other provinces encourage their producers to do it.
Cattle can be age verified without charge by Internet through the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA). But many producers in rural Manitoba have only dial-up access to the Internet. They find the process slow and frustrating, said Rick Wright, MLMA administrator.
Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives offices will help producers age-verify cattle, but their resources are limited.
Having a person on-site using a laptop with high-speed Internet capability will make age verification more user friendly and encourage more producers to have it done, said Wright.
“You can bring your calving records in and they’ll assist you to age verify your calves on the spot,” said Wright.
It’s not known if Alberta will accept non-age-verified cattle from other provinces when its own system becomes mandatory in 2010. Even Alberta livestock officials themselves aren’t sure, Wright said.
But it’s best to age verify calves as a matter of course, especially since the practice is starting to become standard everywhere in Canada, Wright said.
And it’s best to do it now before the fall calf run starts, he added.
“It would be better if it was done in advance because what happens is, close to the fall season when they start to sell, everybody starts to age verify and it really plugs up the system.”
Latest statistics put the number of age-verified cattle in Manitoba at 27 per cent of the provincial herd. That’s a jump from 14 per cent earlier this winter before MCPA launched a drive encouraging producers to age verify their animals.
The MCPA field representative will set up shop in livestock auction markets around the province to receive producers’ cattle records and input them, said Wright.
Fox said the person, who has yet to be hired, will do more than age-verify. He/she will help producers with other programs, such as national traceability, also in the works. [email protected]