FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
Have a question about deer breeding, herd management and health, CWD or VERGE?
The most often asked question is, “How much does it cost”. VERGE’s ALL-INCLUSIVE per animal charge is $200-$285 per animal, based on volume & discounts. That includes ALL costs – everything, all of it, the works...
Isn’t it nice to actually see the cost in writing? No surprises, no questions, no haggling. What’s that? You say you were told you could get your animals bred for $60 a deer?
Breeding Pricing – Part 2 (Apples and Oranges)
We want to make this as simple as possible for our clients – and keep it as clear and honest as possible too. At VERGE, we believe that our clients should know up front what the costs will be for a service, be it breeding, Vet care, testing, or anything else.
In the Cervid industry, breeding service – and in fact Cervid Veterinary care in general - is often quoted based purely on the provider’s time. This makes a service SOUND like it’s a value, when in fact the final invoice often contains added costs not originally quoted (Medications, supplies, anesthetics, etc...). For many breeders this model makes sense to them. For others, it’s an unwelcome surprise.
VERGE provides two pricing models – The All-Inclusive Price and the Hourly Vet Call price – that allow our Clients to compare “apples to apples”. VERGE’s inclusive pricing model covers all of the costs for breeding including the Veterinarian's time, at a “per animal” charge. This includes ALL costs and charges (Anesthesia, Medications, Supplies, breeding services, etc...). Currently, VERGE’s charge for breeding is $285 per deer. Additional discounts are available for existing clients, clients who provide referrals, larger herds and numbers of animals, multi-year agreements, and for other items that can bring the price down to $235 per animal or lower.
VERGE’s other pricing option is the hourly rate charge, where we charge for the Veterinarians hourly rate, and then any supplies, materials, or other items are invoiced separately. For major operators, this model may make sense – since all they need is the specialized Breeding Services from VERGE. VERGE’s current hourly rate is $350/hr for each veterinarian.
Bottom line? Before you commit to a breeding service, call and ask what is and isn’t included. Compare that with VERGE and then be sure to call VERGE to book your breeding.
What is LAP/AI?
LAP/AI stands for Laparoscopic Artificial Insemination. This is a specialized surgical procedure where a laparoscope is used to inset the semen from the buck (located in a straw that’s previously been collected) directly into the uterus of the doe.
Since this is a surgical procedure, it’s required by state law to be performed by a trained and qualified Veterinarian, or under the direct supervision of a trained and qualified Veterinarian. VERGE Vet Services uses ONLY highly trained, qualified, and experienced Veterinarians with specific experience in Cervids (see “Why use a Vet for Breeding?).
The results of LAP/AI can produce a very favorable outcome and provide a great value for a breeding program (see “Why LAP/AI?)
LAP/AI has many benefits for breeders.
Why "Collect" a Buck?
In a word? Security. If you have a superior Buck, you want to get the most out of him as possible. Ideally, you want him to be able to breed for years. By collecting the Buck, and then preserving those straws, you can do just that – and continue to add those genetics to your herd for years to come, even after the animal is gone. This is perhaps the most affordable and effective insurance policy you can purchase to help protect your investment. You can also secure additional financial security by selling those straws and sharing the genetics with other breeders. Finally, straws don’t expose animals – either the Bucks or Does – to possible disease transmission. That provides significant bio-security for your operation.
Why do a Breeding Soundness Exam (BSE)?
To make sure your investment will pay off the best way possible, with the fewest problems possible.
Breeders breed deer. Sometimes we do it through natural cover, sometimes through LAP/AI. But the desired outcome is healthy Does with healthy Fawns out of healthy Bucks. Breeders invest a lot of money in Does, Bucks, and straws – but are the animals really ready to breed? Doesn’t it make sense to ensure that these animals are ready to make the most of your investment? A Breeding Soundness Exam (BSE) makes sure that your animals are ready to breed, safely and successfully.
Why use a Vet for Deer Breeding?
Why use a Veterinarian? To protect your investment and your deer.
Breeders make significant investments in their breeding operations... high quality Does and Bucks, improved genetics using straws, as well as the facilities, time and expenses for simply maintaining the animals. If you’re going to pay top dollar for all of these items, why risk it with someone doing your breeding who isn’t a trained, qualified Veterinarian? And why not make sure that Vet not only has experience specific to Cervids, but extensive experience in breeding and genetics with Cervids?
VERGE’s Veterinarians have unique experience and a special emphasis on Cervids. They focus on reproductive health and genetics for deer. This gives you the added benefit of having a Vet doing the work – so that if there’s an issue, the VERGE Veterinarian can see it and take care of it BEFORE it’s a problem. VERGE’s Vets are there – making sure that not only does the breeding “go right”, but they’re also on hand providing eyes and hands on the animals, watching and observing – helping to get the best outcomes possible.
LAP/AI breeding is a surgical procedure. That’s why the State requires that it be performed by a trained and qualified Veterinarian, or an individual under the direct supervision of a trained and Qualified Veterinarian. Why not use the best Cervid vets, specializing in Breeding. Call VERGE today
How do I compare different breeding services and providers?
Compare breeding services using the same three things used to compare ALL products and services ---- PRICE, QUALITY, and SERVICE --- and ask these questions – and more
- PRICE – don’t just look at the “list” or quoted price. Ask what’s included. What items can you expect to be billed for separately? What will you have to pay for in addition to what’s quoted? Make sure you compare apples and apples.
- QUALITY – Is the provider a Veterinarian? Do you want someone who has a “part-time” job in breeding, or someone who is a full-time animal health professional? Does the person have the ability to handle the unexpected (but inevitable) medical issues that arise during breeding? Do they use proper, safe, medical procedures and protocols to minimize infections, complications, and problems? Do they use CWD-safe protocols for breeding? Do they work exclusively with Cervids, or do they fit deer in between AI’ing cattle and horses? Are they nationally recognized Cervid industry experts? Do they hide behind inflated “conception rate” numbers, or are they truly interested in healthy Does with healthy Fawns on the ground.
- SERVICE - Will the person provide guidance and assistance before breeding to get the best results? Will they be available around and after breeding to help with any issues or questions? Will they be available to assist at Fawning season? Do they follow up to make sure that your herd has the best chances for success each year, or do they disappear until the following breeding season? Do they have the ability to answer your questions with facts, science, and professional experience – or do they rely on what they claim “everyone knows”?
What is "Conception Rate"?
“Conception rate” is probably the most misused AND misunderstood term in the cervid industry when discussing breeding.
Some breeding service providers don’t even understand this term, and claim conception rates that mix AI and cover buck numbers to give a notoriously high number. On top of that, conception rates are impacted by a number of factors, such as handling stress, age of the animals, how many times the straw is ‘split’, synchronization, timing in season – with perhaps the smallest factor being operator proficiency.
Is conception rate a way to measure success of AI? Yes, it can be, IF you factor all these items in.
Unfortunately, using Conception Rate to pick a breeder ignores what happens BEFORE and AFTER the breeding work is completed. Conception is only a part of what you need...
Is There a Better Measure of Breeding Success than “Conception Rate”?
ABSOLUTELY! The better way to know if the AI is producing what you need is to look at the TOTAL result!
- Do you have a full crop of healthy fawns with healthy Does in spring?
- Did you get the genetics and mix of fawns you need for YOUR operation?
How do you get better results from breeding?
Use a professional with the training and expertise to work with you and your herd to get the BEST results.
VERGE works with our clients before the breeding day to plan the breeding and genetics. VERGE will work with you to determine what you’re trying to accomplish – then help you get it.
We’ll provide the tools and assistance to synchronize the does (to within a day and often to within hours) for absolutely optimum breeding. We use and assist with low stress handling, and low stress LAP/AI protocols, to maximize conception rates, and we follow up after breeding to help you achieve your goals.
That’s why VERGE’s “conception rates” are among the best in the industry – with no excuses. It’s also why VERGE breeding services are much more than “conception rates”.
Benefits of a Cervid Veterinarian
Farmed and Captive deer are an expensive investment. They’re also a complicated and unique animal.
Veterinarians often focus on Small Animals (dogs, cats, and domestic pets) or Large Animals (Cattle, horses, sheep and commercial livestock). There are few Veterinarians with a special emphasis and focus solely on Cervids.
Just like horse owners have an Equine Vet handle their animals, and cattleman have a Large Animal Vet work their herds – so should Deer Breeders use a Cervid trained Veterinarian. Your local Veterinarian who gives your dog vaccines and neuters you cat may not be prepared for a colicing horse, or a steer with Johne’s disease – and the odds of them being able to assist with the herd health management of your deer herd is even more slim.
Don’t risk your investment and the future of your herd. Find a Veterinarian with Cervid training and experience, have them come to your facility and establish a client relationship, and work with them to insure your investment – and the lives of your animals
Can VERGE work with my local Vet?
Absolutely. We know that there are times when a VERGE Veterinarian may not be able to make it to your farm as quickly as your local Veterinarian can. These are the times when your VERGE Cervid Vet can work with the local Vet for immediate care and treatment of your deer, until we can arrive and bring our Cervid expertise. We also have built The VERGE Network - an extensive network of local Veterinarians throughout the state that can provide assistance when needed. The key to making this work is for VERGE to have an established relationship with you, to have seen your facility and checked your herd – and for the communication to remain open and solid between you and VERGE.
What’s the most important thing when looking at Breeding?
That question has as many answers as people asking it – maybe more. But at VERGE, we believe that the MOST important thing to consider when looking at Breeding is the final outcome.
If you answer YES to all four of these questions – you’re probably a VERGE client. If not? Call VERGEtoday.
What other services does VERGE provide besides breeding
VERGE Vet Services provides a full complement of Veterinary care services for Cervids, including:
Additionally, VERGE Vet Services is a pioneer in the development of Live Animal testing for CWD. Dr. Nathan Shotts of VERGE is one of the top 5 nationally recognized experts on the disease.
CWD / The VERGE Procedure
What is a DIAGNOSTIC CWD test?
A Diagnostic test determines if Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is present in an individual animal. It can be used for that animal individually to make clinical and regulatory decisions.
As such, a DIAGNOSTIC TEST must have very high sensitivity (the ability to accurately detect a true positive), very high specificity (the ability to accurately detect a true negative).
Prior to The VERGE Procedure, the only diagnostic test for CWD was a post-mortem collection of obex and/or Medial Retropharyngeal Lymph Node (MRPLN) tissue, submitted for an IHC “2-test” confirmation. This test has a recognized diagnostic sensitivity of greater than 99.9%, and a specificity of 100%, making it the GOLD STANDARD tissue and GOLD STANDARD test
The VERGE Procedure provides this diagnostic solution as an ante-mortem “LIVE” solution, with the same sensitivity and specificity – a true ANTE-MORTEM GOLD STANDARD DIAGNOSTIC TEST
What makes a DIAGNOSTIC CWD test different from a Surveillance CWD test?
A Diagnostic test gives a DIAGNOSIS that is specific down to the individual animal. These tests can be diagnostic because of the accuracy (sensitivity and specificity) of the test and tissue involved, in the case of CWD – the MRPLN and the IHC test, with a 99.9%+ accuracy
A surveillance test must be applied to an entire population, or a very large portion of it. It’s not diagnostic for any one animal, but simply determines if a disease is present in that population. This is because of the lower accuracy (sensitivity) of the test and tissue combination. While you may get a result for each animal, the accuracy of that individual result isn’t diagnostic – it must be added to the entire herd’s results to determine what to do with the entire herd.
With a diagnostic test, you know if EACH ANIMAL is positive or negative ... with a surveillance test, you can determine if a disease is present in the population.
This is why with a diagnostic test for CWD, like The VERGE Procedure, testing can be done for individual animals, and an individual animal can be identified as positive or not-detected, with that result applied to that animal for decisions. When using other test protocols (palatine tonsil biopsies or rectal RAMALT biopsies) you must test all animals in a population or herd, and apply the results and decisions to the whole herd.
How does a CWD investigation work for my herd?
IN GENERAL - The regulatory body that handles the disease will conduct an epidemiological investigation. Generally after that, you will enter into a herd plan and, if appropriate, a testing plan.
If you have access to all animals that are suspected of being exposed, you can do a “complete test” – meaning all animals can be INDIVIDUALLY tested. This uses a DIAGNOSTIC TEST for EACH ANIMAL. Previously, this meant euthanizing each animal for post-mortem testing. The VERGE procedure allows these animals to be tested and remain alive, while still providing the same DIAGNOSTIC TEST for EACH ANIMAL for making regulatory decisions.
If not all of the “trace suspect” animals can be located for testing (died without post-mortem testing, harvested without testing, etc..), then you may be subject to an “incomplete test” - meaning the suspect animal cohort is 'incomplete'. Because of this, the entire herd must generally be tested. At this point, the regulators will determine what degree of confidence they need to have of detecting a given prevalence for CWD in your herd.
This isn’t as complicated as it sounds. Generally, if you’re using post-mortem testing of “eligible mortalities”, a “99/5” model can be used – meaning that the regulators are 95% certain that they’d detect a 5% prevalence of CWD in your herd, based on the post-mortem submissions; this uses the assumption that dead deer are more likely to have succumbed to CWD if it was in your herd. If you use a “live test” protocol, a “99/1” model may be used, meaning a 99% certainty that a 1% prevalence of CWD would be detected by live testing a given percentage of the entire herd. This assurance level is based on the animals remaining alive
The number of animals that must be tested is simple statistical math, factoring in all of the variables of the science. The time since exposure and the genotype of the herd also factors into WHEN each test can be used, as well as if a second follow-up test must be applied (generally due to a lower sensitivity for a given test).These are general guidelines – contact your local, state, or regional regulatory officials and bodies for specific information - or CONTACT VERGE for information.
What makes The VERGE procedure different from other CWD “Live” tests?
The VERGE Procedure is:
The MRPLN tissue is the recognized regulatory tissue under USDA Program Standards and Federal law and regulations.
MRPLN tissue is the first tissue that will indicate the presence of CWD in the disease progression cycle in the animal, allowing for the earliest possible detection with a 99.9%+ accuracy.
MRPLN biopsies have been evaluated and accepted “without question” for regulatory use, and correlate to the whole tissue results.
Currently, MRPLN ante-mortem testing can occur as early as 12 months post exposure, with a significant built-in safety factor.
Rectal or RAMALT testing has a sensitivity in the low to mid 60% range. This drives the need for a series of two tests for any degree of accuracy when using a RAMALT test. The tissue itself is also affected by the age of the animal, so older animals that are clinically showing signs of CWD may not indicate a positive from a RAMALT test. Finally, the rectal tissue is the last tissue to indicate the presence of CWD. This drives the need to delay any rectal testing until 36 months+ after initial exposure to CWD, making this test inappropriate for early detection. The test is however a suitable test for surveillance for CWD, especially in wild populations where regulatory decisions are limited and do not affect breeders.
Tonsil biopsy testing has no accepted or determined sensitivity, since there is no data indicating if the biopsy has the same sensitivity as the entire tonsil, but it is generally estimated that the tonsil tissue itself has a sensitivity in the 88-93% range. There is some evidence that the tonsil biopsy sensitivity will be much lower than that (not all tonsil tissue that shows positive in testing, shows positive for a biopsy of the same tissue). The progression of CWD to the tissue is also an unknown, however best estimates are that the tonsil tissue may indicate the presence of CWD between 18 and 24 months. The tonsil biopsy also has a significant application as a surveillance tool in wild populations, and pending the outcome of a study being conducted now (estimated completion in 2020), there may be better data to allow greater use for regulatory purposes as well.
What is the cost for a CWD Live test?
VERGE provides The VERGE Procedure for the same total cost range as LAP/AI breeding services.
VERGE also provides tonsil and rectal testing at rates that are competitive with any other industry provider, as either per animal or by hour rate.
The VERGE Procedure is approximately the same price as a tonsil biopsy when all test costs are factored in. It is less expensive than a rectal biopsy test when the cost of the entire series of rectal tests required is factored in.
VERGE’s rates meet or beat those of any other provider in the industry, and after looking at our expertise and success rates – you won’t have to pay twice for re-testing.
Is an MRPLN test – The VERGE Procedure – more expensive than other tests?
Don’t believe what you’ve heard about The VERGE Procedure being hundreds or thousands of dollars more expensive than other testing. VERGE has worked aggressively to provide what we’ve promised all along – a GOLD STANDARD TEST that is accurate, safe, and affordable for industry.
The cost of The VERGE Procedure per animal is approximately the same as the cost of a tonsil biopsy test per animal, when all costs are added up, and it's less expensive than a rectal biopsytest series. When you then add in the costs to your business of the time required to wait for eligibility for either a tonsil or rectal test, the costs of these options skyrockets.
Many providers quote a simple hourly fee, and then bill separately for the costs of procedure supplies, anesthetics, medications, and test supplies. Unfortunately, many variables can affect how many animals an hour can be tested (working facilities or none? Day or night? Operator and staff experience? Complications?). When you add up all of these costs, they often exceed VERGE’s all-inclusive pricing.
Still unsure? Add in the costs for the extra months – or years – you may have to remain locked down under a “hold order” to test out using tonsils or RAMALT. Then look at the numbers again and make your decision.
VERGE can provide any testing you need, when needed, accurately and effectively – at a price that is a value for you and the industry – that includes the GOLD STANDARD TEST – The VERGE Procedure - or any other test that you may require and that is appropriate and the best choice for YOU.
Why? Because VERGE realizes that early testing and clearance is vital for each breeder AND the industry, and we want to provide a service that keeps breeders in business – and calling VERGE for the next breeding season as well.
Can a CWD test protect me from future CWD Trace investigations?
Short answer? Yes – thanks to some of the work VERGE has done with regulators and industry.
The key is to have a CWD test that provides the STRONGEST Epidemiological answers with the highest levels of certainty, accuracy, and confidence – for YOU and YOUR CUSTOMERS, as well as for the regulators, so the answer depends on the test and your actions with your herd.
For example, if you did a live test using rectal biopsies of a portion of your herd, and you were involved in a future CWD trace investigation, the epidemiologist and regulators would look at the number of animals tested, the sensitivity and accuracy of the test and tissue combination, as well as the timing, genetics, and ages of the animals. In the case of a rectal test, that would be a 60-65% accuracy at 36 months, for the younger animals. Older animals would have a much lower successful test rate and accuracy. The regulators could very well determine that the RAMALT test wasn’t enough, since CWD could have slipped by the test cycle.
On the other hand, if you did a 100% whole-herd test using MRPLN tissue, and the test was done on your herd when there had been no movement in or out for the previous 12 months (not unreasonable if testing occurs just before shipping bucks), then the regulators could look at that 99.9% accurate test, with a 12 month static herd – applicable to all ages - and after checking the records, decide that your herd posed little to no risk for CWD. If you maintained that “closed herd” status, and used VERGE for LAP/AI breeding to improve your herds genetics, submitted your eligible mortalities for testing, and maintained simple, good bio-security practices (that VERGE can assist with) – from an Epidemiological and regulatory standing, you’d be in an excellent position... AND you’d have a quality herd that your customers could purchase from with CONFIDENCE
How can VERGE help with a CWD Trace investigation?
VERGE Vet Services can assist by being able to discuss the specifics of your situation “Vet-to-Vet” and “Epidemiologist–to-Epidemiologist”, with the appropriate regulatory officials. This levels the field. We do this by working in a non-adversarial fashion with the regulatory officials, working to solve the problems ate hand to get you back into operation in the quickest, most effective way possible.
VERGE can also advise you on the ins and outs of the regulatory and business aspects for your situation, so that when you do successfully emerge from the action, you’re in a stronger, better position than before.
If CWD is a “political disease”, why is VERGE working so hard on tests and solutions?
VERGE Vet Services has one agenda – providing real-world solutions to problems facing our clients, TODAY. The aspects of CWD that have resulted in discussions of "political diseases”, property rights, and other very critical aspects of the total issue have plenty of advocates and lots of discussion – but that does very little for the breeders and industry TODAY.
VERGE’s focus is providing our clients and Industry with solutions that will keep them in operation TODAY, so they can continue to be part of the Industry in the future.
Is there a CWD testing season?
There is no absolute season for CWD testing, like there is for breeding. VERGE has identified factors that do limit the most effective and best times for testing.
In General - The ideal time for testing Bucks is after shedding their antlers and before antler development begins the following season. Does should ideally be tested after Fawns are weaned, and before they are too late as Bred Does (generally 8 weeks before fawning). Of course, anytime that a Bred Doe is scheduled for testing, care must be taken.
VERGE has developed special protocols for handling and testing both Bred Does and other high risk animals to minimize complications and issues. This allows VERGE clients to have a much larger testing opportunity window.
Copyright 2016 VERGE Vet Services, Inc.
VERGE Vet Services - a MOBILE CERVID VETERINARY PRACTICE
(281) 203-2557 or (281) 203-8460
VERGE Vet Services, Inc