What are Registered and/or Certified Cattle?
Registered and Certified are two completely different things, involving completely different agencies and processes neither of which are related to the other. You could have an unregistered cow certified as an A2/A2 producer or whichever one of the three types of milk she produces; A2/A2, A1/A1, or A1/A2. You could have a registered cow that either is or isn't certified as the producer of any of the particular types of milk.
Registered herd or head of cattle
Registering is a process whereby an owner possesses an animal which is registered through an organization such as the American Guernsey Association in our case, and breeds that animal to another registered animal and then registers its offspring or sells said offspring with documents so the purchasers can register it. There is no legitimate way to register an undocumented animal nor one with incomplete paperwork.
There are many different organizations for registering many different kinds of animals but they are all there for the same purpose; to ensure the purity and quality of the breed.
Not long ago I saw an add on Craigslist for a young "Registered" Brown Swiss bull. My wife and I drove a long way to look at that bull only to find what they were calling registered was not! When I looked at the bull and asked to see his papers, I was handed the papers for his mother and a handwritten statement as to who his father was. Needless to say we left without that bull because he was not "registered". We left telling them that if they could produce paperwork on this bull we would take him, but they never did call us back. In hind sight we're happy that deal went down the way it did, we didn't want the Brown Swiss, we just didn't know it yet.
A registered herd means that each animal is actually registered and has its own paperwork to prove it. The paperwork of a parent or some other statement carries no weight and proves absolutely nothing. Registering an animal ensures the tracking of lineage and proves ancestry which gives value to animals in addition to ensuring quality. We register each heifer calf immediately when born while bull calves we steer and raise for slaughter which does not require registration. If we were to decide to sell a bull calf with paperwork we would deliver him with documents which would permit the buyer to register him. We don't register our bulls because it has no value to us, however the documents we deliver with him gives him the added value for our sale. Bulls have to be DNA tested which adds to the cost of registration and is only worth doing if he will be used to breed a registered herd.
The benefit of registered cattle is more of a farmer thing than anything else. To the end consumer, it really doesn't matter all that much unless the consumer is seeking a particular milk type or quality. Even then registration doesn't mean anything if the cattle haven't been certified.
What does Certified mean?
There are many different kinds of certification which can be accomplished by as many different agencies. For example, you can have your cattle certified as free from diseases or certified that they produce a particular type of milk etc.
Milk quality certification - Milk can be tested for quality as frequently as a farmer is willing to pay for the test. Testing is not cheap, but it's beneficial to have done at least periodically. If a farmer knows his cattle are free from disease and the farmer has a clean milking process all the way to the bottles, then you can be pretty certain that the milk is safe and the quality is the best that it can be.
Milk type certification - If a farmer states that his cattle are certified A2/A2 producers, it means that each animal has been DNA tested to identify the A2/A2 genes. If they aren't A2/A2, then a farmer knows that he can sell them if he so chooses. Buying outside heifers from time-to-time which have not been tested on a gamble with the Guernsey breed is a 90% bet that you will get an A2/A2 heifer. If a farmer has an A2/A2 bull and breeds certified A2/A2 cattle to that bull, then there is no need to test the resulting calves because the offspring from the two will certainly be the same as the parents. There is no other way to know what type of milk a given cow produces regardless of the breed even if it is "Registered". Many a farmer falsely claims that a particular cow is superior simply because of its breed; this is especially common with Jersey farmers for some reason. Without DNA testing and certification they don't know what their cattle produce; period. Any claim to the contrary is simply false. Jump to Top