Producers capture $14 more per head marketing calves as BVD-PI-free

Farm Forum

JARRELL, Texas — For the second, consecutive year, research shows cattle buyers are paying a higher premium for calves that test negative for being persistently infected (PI) with bovine viral diarrhea (BVD). According to an analysis of Superior Livestock Auction data for more than 400,000 head marketed during 2013, producers who take pride in adding value to their cattle receive an average premium paid for BVD-PI-free calves of $2.97 per hundredweight. Compared to untested calves, this translates to an additional net profit of $14 for every 600-pound BVD-PI-free calf.

“Superior Livestock continues to lead the industry in clearly establishing added value discovery for health protocols and other programs that differentiate quality calves,” says Glenn Rogers, D.V.M., Superior Livestock Auction consultant. “This second consecutive year of substantial and increasing price premiums for BVD-PI-free calves demonstrates that buyers are clearly recognizing the added value from this practice.”

Using BVD-PI testing results to add value

During the past two years, 88 lots of cattle sold through Superior Livestock Auction were identified as being BVD-PI-free by laboratory diagnostic testing. Sales data for these calves were compared to results from 6,175 other lots. In 2013, the 47 lots identified as being BVD-PI-free brought a $2.97-per-hundredweight premium compared to non-BVD-PI-tested cattle. For a 600-pound calf, this meant a $17.82 advantage. After subtracting the testing costs, producers netted at least $14 per head.

“This shows a year-on-year increase of $3.30 per 600-pound calf — real-world data that confirms buyers recognize the benefits of paying more for BVD-PI-free status cattle,” says Jeff Baxter, Senior Product Manager for Gold Standard Labs, which provides BVD-PI diagnostic services. “BVD-PI testing is all about adding value to the cattle being sold helping predict favorable health and performance. Buyers are willing to pay premiums for these BVD-PI-free documented cattle because they know the ROI benefit of paying more for these cattle will be realized in better health and performance.”

Determining BVD-PI status quickly, easily

The process of receiving quick-turn test results is easy and starts by contacting your testing laboratory of choice. Most diagnostic labs provide sample-collection supplies. Gold Standard Labs provides an ear notcher and sample vials in trays for easy shipment.

It’s easy to collect a simple ear notch from each animal. Use the provided ear notcher to collect a small “V” sample from an individual animal and drop sample in the provided vial. Producers should use a permanent marker to label vial with animal ID (both top and side of vial).

It’s important to ship samples immediately to your testing laboratory. Gold Standard Labs provides return shipping labels with special FedEx shipping rates.

Once the individually identified samples are received, Gold Standard Labs provides confidential, same-day results via email or fax.

For more information about the economic benefits of identifying BVD-PI-free calves, or to order BVD-PI sample collection materials, contact Gold Standard Labs at 800-808-3552 or