There is no validity to rumours that meat packers may be reluctant to embrace the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association’s (CCA) Beef InfoXchange System (BIXS), says spokesman Larry Thomas.
“On the packer question I can share that yes, we have not been public in sounding the horns about packer support for BIXS, but rest assured we are confident in that support,” said Thomas, national co-ordinator of the Canadian Beef Advantage and BIXS programs for the CCA.
“Discussions continue on how detailed carcass data will flow to BIXS linked to the CCIA tag from participating plants and until those details are confirmed it would not be prudent for us to share any information.”
BIXS is a voluntary, online computer database designed to share information up and down the beef value chain between cow-calf producers, feeders and packers.
Under development for more than two years, BIXS is currently in its first, limited launch phase with grassroots producers. The program is expected to be ready for use at the feedlot level sometime this fall, with packer participation the third and final tier of the producer-driven initiative.
The concept behind the project is to allow everyone more marketing choice within the system by empowering each level with knowledge. Cow-calf producers will learn how their individual calves performed, they will know how much weight was gained and at what rate at the feedlot, and they will eventually have carcass data once packers are fully participating. This will allow ranchers the opportunity to adjust their breeding or their vaccination and medical protocols based on real-time, individual animal information.
Feedlots will benefit by being able to track the performance of calves over time, assessing what attributes are desirable in calves before making future purchase decisions. It will also allow feedlots to source specific types of feeder animals, by age, weight, breed, vaccination protocol or any other number of potential factors.
While incorporating a new technology regime into an already fast-paced and high-volume business such as meat-packing may be challenging, processors also have much to theoretically gain once BIXS is fully implemented.
To the modern slaughterhouse, it is critically important to keep the line running at the highest volume possible as only with volume are cost efficiencies realized. BIXS has the potential to allow processors to source and guide a steadier stream of fed cattle through the packing plants.
“In conceiving and delivering BIXS it is the CCA’s belief that heightened assurances on supply is important to packers and our understanding is they do see BIXS delivering this,” said Thomas. “Assurances on previous management and health protocols, medications and histories, age, very specific information on breed and crossbreed makeup and in time, genomic and genetic information on supply as well as feeding, transport, environmental and animal-care backgrounds and other assurances can be important as market signals coming to packers from further up the chain.”
OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN
Those who choose to use BIXS to market and source cattle will have an opportunity to learn more about the beef chain, using it to their own marketing advantage. “BIXS also enables business relationships to form from the cow-calf level onwards up through the beef chain and feedlots and packers, and others further up the chain, are fully aware of this advantage,” Thomas said.
In addition to time, significant financing has been invested into the program to develop it for all levels of the chain. “To date, Agriculture Canada has provided $5.36 million of AgriFlexibility Funds to develop BIXS, get cow-calf producers on to the program and comfortable with it and get computer carcass evaluation equipment installed in plants so detailed carcass information can flow into BIXS linked to the CCIA tag ID,” said Thomas. “And to get feedlots linked up with BIXS to submit individual animal data.” BIXS will also operate as an alternative site for one-step CCIA age verification.
“OnthepackerquestionIcansharethatyes, wehavenotbeenpublicinsoundingthe hornsaboutpackersupportforBIXS,butrest assuredweareconfidentinthatsupport.”
– larry thomas, cca