The Future of Traceability in Beef Cattle

In 2003, a single steer was discovered to have Mad Cow Disease, and single handedly crippled the beef export industry in the United States. According to the Kansas State University Department of Agriculture, exports fell from $3.14 billion in 2003 to $550 million in 2004 — an 82% drop. 

Another disruptive event like this is bound to happen again and that is why traceability in the cattle sector is of utmost importance right now. Traceability has the power to quickly pinpoint the source of the outbreak and the potential to halt or mitigate its impact across an entire market, benefitting all producers. 

Beef exporting is a massive global business, with countries like Brazil, Australia, and the United States leading the charge by a large margin. When a contagious or deadly disease is confirmed in one country, that market basically shuts down. 

An effective traceability program across the beef industry can help that market reopen much quicker. The source of the outbreak can be rapidly tracked down and resolved. You can easily tell which animals came into contact with the diseased animal, and which animals are considered safe. 

Many countries are raising their standards for traceability. Specifically, European and Asian markets are requiring an increase in traceability, animal movement records, and producer identification to develop trust in food-safety assurance. A lack of traceability in the future could impact a country's access to these export destinations. 

HerdWhistle is a smart system that provides complete traceability on the feedlot. It tracks each time a steer eats or drinks in the pen. It can track which pen the steer is in, the timeframe it spent in that pen, and which other animals it shared the pen with over its entire lifecycle. 

But HerdWhistle has an added value on top of its traceability features. Its main purpose is to detect sick animals days ahead of time. By monitoring feeding and drinking behaviour 24/7 it can detect the subclinical signs of illness. Decline in a steer’s feeding and drinking is displayed up to 7 days before visible symptoms appear. HerdWhistle guides feedlot operators to these animals so they can provide early and more effective treatment. 

Catching the sick animals early reduces mortality rates on the feedlot, boosting the profitability of the operation. It also helps pull animals early in their stage of illness to help prevent further spread and outbreaks across the entire lot. But ultimately, when it comes to traceability, there is a clear profile of the animal’s behaviour and time spent during its stay on the feedlot. 

HerdWhistle is a game changer for feedlot animal health and traceability.

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