Mid North dry stock farmer Roger Ludbrook has some simple advice for anyone who buys bulls privately — ensure they are registered in NAIT (National Animal Identification and Tracing) and that the vendor has recorded a sending movement before buying them.
"Don't take their word for it. If they can't provide a NAIT number or evidence that the service bull is registered, walk away, don't risk your livelihood, support disease management and traceability," he said.
Mr Ludbrook, a sixth generation farmer at Ohaeawai, said he had first-hand experience of the change in attitudes towards NAIT, thanks to a stock agent who told him that a farmer was not going to pay for the bulls he sold him, until he recorded the movement.
"It was certainly a spur for me," he said.
"I had never encountered that before, in terms of someone wanting the animal movement confirmed in NAIT within 48 hours."
Managing one NAIT location at Ohaeawai, Mr Ludbrook is a 'person in charge of animals' (PICA) for around 1100 beef cattle, including an Angus herd. He rears bull calves, about 95 per cent of which go to the works.
For private sales, he records and confirms farm to farm movements directly into NAIT courtesy of a NAIT app linked up to his scanner.
While he conceded that his NAIT account was a work in progress — "I'm due a stock take" — he now views NAIT obligations more positively, and as a necessity.
The purchase of a Tru-Test scanner was a game changer, he said, and had made his bull calves rearing operation more cost-effective, with less time spent matching animals to lost tags.
In the past, when sending animals to the works, he would often be penalised because around 10 per cent, mainly old bulls, would be missing NAIT tags or they were not readable.
"This was annoying, and it was costing me," he said.
"If you're sending through say 450 animals weighing in at 300kg, that's effectively $30 a head I was getting pinged, and so annually I was incurring around $1500 in charges because they were not scanning through.
"When the works called about missing tags I would have to go through the old weigh box to try and work out what bulls were actually sent. Now, with the scanner, you can go through the tag file and find the tag number and match it against the kill sheets the works has."