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Kurt Kangas Kurt Kangas

Association Perspective

Are there programs you should enroll your calves in?

The summer video-sale season starts in earnest this week. In the next three and a half months, feeder calves, yearling steers and heifers will be offered in 18 sales hosted throughout the Rocky Mountain West. With everyone trying to get an edge marketing their calves, the list of acronyms one can attach to a load of calves is impressive. PVP, ASV, NHTC, NE3, GAP are just some of the examples of commonly used acronyms. But what do they mean?

Usually when looking at programs to enroll calves, there are two types: process-verified programs (PVPs) and affidavit-type programs. The difference between them is a PVP is a USDA program that requires an audit by a third party. An affidavit is as simple as it sounds — the producer signs an affidavit that has an outline of the parameters of the program, but it is not third-party verified.

Common affidavit programs like “natural” usually have wording in them such as “no hormones,” “no antibiotics,” or “no animal byproducts.” They can also include wording about genetics of the cattle.

While affidavits have historically been adequate for entrance into certain programs, increasingly PVPs are becoming the desired form of lot or group validation of claims. PVPs come in several different forms: Age and Source Verified (ASV), Non-Hormone Treated Animals (NHTC), Never Ever 3 (NE3) and Animal Handling or Global Animal Partnership (GAP). Usually these programs build on one another.

Age and Source — The base of all PVP programs. The purpose is to verify the age of a group of calves and the location the calves were born and raised. To do this, ranches must have access to their premise ID number, which can be obtained from the state vet, and must have a record of the first calf born on the ranch to establish age. Age-and-source verification does not currently require an audit to be done before the calves sell, but a ranch could have a random 3% audit done. These audits are randomly selected from the pool of participants in Age and Source at the rate of 3% of all enrollees.

NHTC — All NHTC cattle are age- and source-verified in addition to being verified as not having received any hormone-based growth promotants (HGPs) added to their system through implants, estrous synchronization protocols or the use of prostaglandin on heifer calves.

Participants in this program must maintain records of usage and receipts if these types of products are kept on the ranch. Ranches are also required to provide proof from feed companies that there aren’t any HGPs getting added to the mineral or other feedstuffs the ranch might purchase. To become NHTC-certified, an audit by a third party is required prior to selling the calves.

NE3 — NE3 cattle are age- and source-verified, and are verified to be hormone-free, antibiotic-free (including ionophores) and animal-byproduct-free. This program requires an audit for every group enrolled, as well. Animals that are doctored will need to be marked as such (as simple as notching a tag or ear so the calf can be later identified) and cannot be marketed as NE3. Producers again must maintain receipts for the purchase or use of any HGPs, antibiotics or animal byproducts.

Animal Handling Welfare and GAP — These are programs varying greatly in their requirements to qualify. For example, GAP has five different levels: all imposing stricter and stricter guidelines on animal-welfare issues as the GAP level moves from one to five. Other programs are less stringent, using a pass/fail grade on roughly 10 different areas of ranch management. These include: shipping, working/processing, broken needles, handling of non-ambulatory cattle, animal disposal, humane euthanasia, antibiotic residue avoidance, medicated feed additives, water tank/ponds, and management practices. While all GAP cattle have to be audited every year, other animal-handling programs are audited on the initial enrollment and then enter into the same 3% pool as the Age and Source cattle previously mentioned.

With all programs, producers can expect to maintain more records on the calf lots that sell with a PVP, as all records have to be maintained for three years. All of this sounds daunting, but the truth is most ranches find it easier to qualify for many of these PVPs than they initially think. Some require slight management tweaks for identifying calves, others are already doing almost everything to qualify for these programs and don’t even realize it.

If you want more information on the PVPs that Angus now offers in its suite of products, or are wondering how to get signed up, contact your regional manager or call the American Angus Association’s AngusSource program. They’ll be happy to assist you.

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Editor’s Note: Regional Manager Kurt Kangas covers Region 10, including the states of Alaska, Montana and Wyoming. Click here to find the regional manager for your state.

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