Proof of integrity from farm to market
VelTrak is a fully electronic, web-based system that enables NZ velvet to be tracked and traced each step of the way from the farm to the market (and vice-versa).
Overseas market regulators and New Zealand’s Animal Products Act require rapid and accurate traceability for all animal-based food products. DINZ has developed VelTrak to do this, using technology designed specifically for deer velvet.
VelTrak builds on the great work done by farmers to upgrade their sheds and freezers to comply with the MPI Regulated Control Scheme (RCS). When customers buy a stick of NZ velvet that carries a black VelTrak tag they know it comes from a quality assured NZ farm and meets our stringent animal welfare and food safety standards.
Major health food companies in South Korea welcome VelTrak because it provides them with the proof of integrity they need to protect the reputation of their brands. Because other producing countries do not offer this, it is expected to strengthen the premium position NZ velvet now enjoys in South Korea over velvet from elsewhere. It also helps our velvet exporters and DINZ to grow the market for velvet-based health foods from brand-named companies across Asia.
VelTrak currently provides customers with proof of integrity from farm to market, but it has been designed to support future marketing initiatives that will help keep NZ velvet several steps ahead of the competition. Lookout for exciting developments in the years ahead.
Log in to the VelTrak website here >>
Everyone involved in the velvet supply chain must be registered with VelTrak in order to sell or trade in velvet for human consumption. This includes deer farms, vet practices and businesses involved in velvet removal, procurement, warehousing, processing and packing for export.
To register with VelTrak, please ring DINZ.
Every stick of velvet that can securely carry a tag must be tagged by the farmer with a black VelTrak tag before the velvet leaves the farm. Spiker or regrowth velvet that cannot be securely tagged should be placed in a clean bag with a VelTrak tag attached.
Each VelTrak tag carries a barcode and an embedded RFID UHF chip. The chip and the barcode carry a number that’s unique to the tag.
Vet practices allocate VelTrak tags to their farmer clients after recording the tag numbers against the farm on the VelTrak website.
The tags are scanned by the velvet buyer at purchase, or by the receiving packhouse, using a UHF scanner. This process records the tag on the VelTrak system and automatically generates an electronic Velvet Status Declaration (VSD) for the farmer to approve. Farmers do not need to scan the tags, record tag numbers or fill out a paper-based VSD anymore.
VelTrak is a web-based application (a website) that can be accessed from a desktop PC, laptop, tablet or smart phone. Each user must have a unique email address. This is their ID for logging on. If a deer farmer also works as a deer vet, or as a velvet buyer, they need a separate email address for each of these business activities.
Farmers and vets do not need to install any special software to access the website. Velvet buyers and packhouses need only to install software to support the scanning of velvet tags and the generation of electronic Velvet Status Declarations for farmer approval.
To register with VelTrak, please ring DINZ.
In order for a farmer to sell their velvet into the human food chain, they must be registered with VelTrak and tag their velvet with black VelTrak UHF RFID tags. This applies to farmers who are NVSB-accredited to do their own velvetting, as well as those who get a vet to do their velvetting.
How to register
To register a farm with VelTrak, please ring DINZ. Once DINZ has checked that your farm is not already registered under a different name, they will send you an email with a registration link. Click on that link to register. If you cannot find the email, which will be sent from email@example.com, check your junk/spam mail folder, just in case it has gone there.
Registration only takes 5 minutes but it’s important to complete all the fields. In particular, don’t forget to select a veterinary practice, so that your farm name appears in the practice’s list of clients on VelTrak. This will enable them to order VelTrak tags for your farm.
Once a primary contact for a farm is registered, that person can invite other members of their farm team to register – either as a ‘regular’ user or ‘super’ user. Users in both roles can access all farm business functions in VelTrak, except Manage/Business Details and Manage/Users. These functions can be accessed only by super users.
- Log onto https://veltrak.velvet.org.nz
- Select the MANAGE drop down arrow on the top right of your screen
- Select BUSINESS DETAILS and fill in the three categories:
- Choose your vet practice
- Fill in your chosen phone number
- Enter your NAIT number.
- Select USERS
- Add new staff and specify their roles
- Remove former staff
Once you have provided the required information, click on the ‘save’ button to save your changes.
VelTrak is designed to make compliance easy for farmers. You don’t need to fill out a paper VSD or record tag numbers – unless you wish to for farm management reasons.
Every stick of velvet that can securely carry a tag must be tagged with a black VelTrak tag before it leaves the farm. Velvet that cannot be securely tagged, including smaller sticks of spiker or regrowth, must be placed in a clean bag with a VelTrak tag attached to the bag.
Left-over blue tags from previous seasons are no longer valid and should be destroyed. But any black tags left over at the end of one season can be carried over to the next.
Tags are allocated to your farm by your vet practice and recorded on the VelTrak website. The practice does this either by scanning the barcodes on the tags or by entering individual barcode numbers.
The tags are next scanned and recorded by the velvet buyer, or the receiving packhouse, using a UHF scanner. A draft eVSD is then generated in VelTrak for you to approve.
With a private sale on a farm that has internet access, the eVSD can be generated almost immediately by the buyer. With firms that use a central depot or packhouse, it may take a few days before the eVSD is generated.
The person buying or picking up velvet from your farm should advise you when to expect the email notifying you that an eVSD is ready for you to approve. This approval must be done on the VelTrak website. This is the only way to approve your eVSDs.
Once you have approved the eVSD for a consignment, your velvet can move to the next step in the supply chain. It can then be sold and you can be paid. For these reasons it is critical that you approve your eVSDs promptly (see panel below).
The VelTrak website also allows you to:
- Update your business details
- Add and remove users on your farm account
- Check how many tags you have in stock
- Check that your vet has correctly recorded the number of tags you have ordered
- Track all tags that have left your farm by date and receiver/buyer. This is an important audit tool
- Check how many tags are left over at the end of the season, for transfer to the following season.
Approve eVSDs promptly, carefully
When a consignment of velvet from your farm is sold or sent to a packhouse, it will be scanned by the buyer or receiver. Once this record is saved to VelTrak, two things automatically happen:
- An electronic Velvet Status Declaration (eVSD) for the consignment is generated and lodged in your VelTrak account.
- You are sent an email advising you that the eVSD is waiting in your VelTrak account for you to approve.
When you get this email it is important to promptly check and approve the eVSD. To do this, log into your VelTrak account using your PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Do not use the VelTrak app from Google Playstore, as it works only on the scanners used by buyers.
There are three declaration questions on page three of the eVSD. Please read, understand and answer these questions correctly. You must answer YES to all three questions for your velvet to enter the human food chain.
At the same time, be mindful that the eVSD is a legal document, so it is important to answer the questions truthfully. Also, your answers cannot be changed once you have approved the eVSD.
VelTrak enables every velvet tag to be electronically tracked from the vet, to the farm, to the buyer, to the processor and finally to the overseas customer. This paperless chain of custody enables velvet to be rapidly and accurately tracked and traced from the farm to the market and back again.
This ensures our velvet complies with New Zealand’s Animal Products Act and the requirements of overseas market regulators. It also protects the majority of farmers who do the right thing, by making it very difficult for anyone velvetting in unregistered facilities and/or outside our industry-agreed standards to sell their velvet.
VelTrak tags and how to apply them
Each black VelTrak tag you purchase from your vet has been recorded on the VelTrak website as having been allocated to your farm. It allows each stick to be tracked all the way from your farm to the market (and back again).
DINZ, as the supplier, sets a recommended retail price (RRP) for the tags, but the actual price to the farmer is set by the veterinary practice. The RRP for the 2021/22 season is 49 c/tag including GST.
- Use the black tags only (velvet with blue tags carried over from previous seasons will not be accepted for an eVSD).
- Keep the tags clean and dry before attaching them to the stick (wet or dirty tags may not stick).
- Keep unused tags at least 2 metres away from any area on the farm where velvet is scanned. This is to prevent unused tags from being scanned by accident.
- Store your tags away from direct sunlight or sources of heat, to protect the RFID chip from damage.
- Attach each tag by wrapping it around the velvet like a wristband. Stick the end on top of the other end of the tag, without covering the barcode or any of the printing. (Don’t stick the inside ends of the tag together like an airline luggage tag).
- Leave some space between the tag and the stick, so it dries properly during processing (you should be able to easily fit your little finger between the tag and the stick).
- If you tag velvet when it is hanging on a rack, cut end upward, put the tag on upside down (this means it will read correctly when the cut end of the dried stick is pointing downward).
- If the stick is very thick, place the tag somewhere on the stick where it will fit and not fall off. Do not stick two tags end on end (or it will result in two readings).
This video was filmed with prototype green tags. The VelTrak UHF RFID tags are black.
Farmer quick-start guide
To view or download a copy of the Farmer quick-start guide (A3 poster format), click here >>
To request a hard copy, printed on waterproof synthetic paper, please ring 0508 VELTRAK (0508 835 872)
For a farmer to sell deer velvet into the human food chain, it must be tagged with a black VelTrak tag, obtained from their veterinarian.
Before you can allocate VelTrak tags to a farmer, your veterinary practice must be registered with VelTrak and the farm’s velvetting and cold storage facilities must have passed an MPI Regulated Control Scheme (RCS) audit. This applies regardless of whether the farmer or a vet removes the velvet.
To register a veterinary practice with VelTrak, please ring DINZ. DINZ will send you an email with a registration link. Click on that link to register. If you cannot find the email, which will be sent from firstname.lastname@example.org, check your junk/spam mail folder, just in case it has gone there.
Once the ‘primary user’ has registered the practice they can register any NVSB-registered vet or other staff member who will be dealing with VelTrak on behalf of their business.
Unrelated vet ‘businesses’ cannot share tags or borrow them if they run out. So the most flexible option in regions where deer vets work across multiple clinics is to register all the clinics in VelTrak as a single ‘business’. This business needs to order tags centrally via the VelTrak on-line ordering system and distribute them to the clinics in its network.
Tags held by the business can then be allocated to any of its deer farmer clients by any of the NVSB-vets the primary user has registered on VelTrak.
To allocate tags to individual farms, record the tag numbers on the VelTrak website, either manually or by using a barcode scanner. Packs of tags are labelled with the barcodes of the starting and ending tag numbers, making it easy to record transfers of multiple tags to farms using a barcode scanner. On farms with only a few stags, individual tags can be allocated to the recipient by scanning or by manual data entry.
If a farmer has failed an RCS audit, this will be flagged on VelTrak, which will not permit tag allocation to occur. If a client wishes to do their own velvetting, they must be NVSB accredited and have an NVSB supervisory contract with a vet in your practice. If a farmer isn’t NVSB accredited, their stags must be velvetted by a veterinarian.
DINZ invoices vet practices for the tags they order. You may pass this cost on to your farmer clients, along with an appropriate mark-up to cover handling and inventory costs. The DINZ recommended retail price for the 2021/22 season is 49 c/tag, including GST.
Deer Vets/Clinics Webinar– 19 March 2021
Andrew Scurr, NZVA member of the National Velvetting Standards Body presents on VelTrak, the new electronic track-and-trace system for deer velvet which will be rolled out this year in time for the 2021/22 velvet season. Joining Andrew is Deer Industry New Zealand QA Manager John Tacon and Quality Systems Administrator Pam MacLeman to help answer questions following the presentation.
To participate in velvet buying, warehousing, or packing for export, a business must be registered with VelTrak. Anyone buying or receiving velvet from farms must have access to a ‘Zebra’ brand UHF RFID scanner or a specified fixed reader (see below).
These scanners are a significant investment in the long-term reputation of NZ deer velvet. This builds on the major investments made by deer farmers in their deer sheds and freezers so that they comply with the MPI Regulated Control Scheme (RCS) for velvet removal.
To register your business with VelTrak, please ring DINZ. DINZ will send you an email with a registration link. Click on that link to register. If you cannot find the email, which will be sent from email@example.com, check your junk/spam mail folder, just in case it has gone there.
Once the primary contact for your business has registered, they can invite other members of staff to register and to specify their roles.
Buyers and receivers are responsible for promptly scanning consignments of velvet bought or received from a farmer. As soon as the file for the scanned consignment is saved, VelTrak automatically generates a draft electronic Velvet Status Declaration (eVSD) for the farmer to approve. At the same time it emails the farmer, advising them that the eVSD is lodged on the VelTrak website ready for their approval.
Buyers: eVSD generation and approval
Scanning can only be done with a Zebra UHF RFID scanner and recorded using the VelTrak computer app (from Google Play Store) or via a fixed reader where a packhouse has opted for this.
VelTrak allows bulk bins or even truckloads of velvet from multiple farms to be scanned with a high degree of accuracy. It works out which sticks come from which farm and enables you to generate eVSDs for individual farmer approval.
IMPORTANT – If the buyer grades and/or sorts a consignment of velvet for sale to a packhouse, the buyer will need to scan the velvet again. This enables an ‘agent eVSD’ to be raised in VelTrak using a process similar to the raising of a farmer eVSD. However, if the buyer is sending an entire batch (untouched) that they have scanned from a farm, it is possible to create an agent eVSD from the existing farmer VSD files. Agent eVSDs do not need to be approved by the receiving packhouse.
Subsequent movements of velvet – such as to/from a processor, or sale – can optionally be recorded in VelTrak by UHF scanning and recording the movement as a Velvet Transfer Record (VTR). Recording these movements is not mandatory but, if done, will provide a complete record of the movement of each velvet stick.
VelTrak for buyers, agents and packhouses
If you wish to maintain a complete record in VelTrak of all velvet movements, including those that do not require a VSD or agent VSD, you have the option to do this using VTRs (Velvet Transfer Records).
How to use the Zebra scanner
This video was filmed with prototype green tags. The new UHF RFID tags are black.
How to manage the files on your Zebra scanner
To read the Independent Buyer user guide, click here >>
To read the Packhouse/processor user guide, click here >>
VelTrak enables velvet to be rapidly tracked up or down the supply chain in response to a food safety or biosecurity issue. If such an issue occurs, DINZ can rapidly unlock the system to identify the farm or consignment and contain the risk.
The ability to rapidly and accurately track and trace animal food products, and to demonstrate compliance with food safety requirements, is required by the Animal Products Act and regulators in our largest velvet markets (South Korea and China). Because the industry’s previous paper-based systems could not provide this level of assurance, an electronic system needed to be developed.
DINZ developed VelTrak to meet these requirements and to provide a platform for future market development initiatives that will add further value to NZ velvet. Down the track, some customers will doubtless want to scan a stick and see a photo and a bit of a story about where the velvet comes from – the farm, the farmers and the deer. This is something we may explore once VelTrak is well-established.
The integrity of our production systems is one of the major reasons that NZ velvet enjoys such a strong reputation in South Korea and China. VelTrak further entrenches this reputation by reducing the risk of human error or fraud. It provides the level of traceability that major brand-name companies expect of their raw material suppliers.
VelTrak is expected to help strengthen the premium position that NZ velvet enjoys in South Korea. While other countries have piggy-backed on the work NZ has done developing demand from Korean health food companies, they do not have the technology we have developed for VelTrak.
VelTrak is likely to play an important role in developing demand in China and elsewhere in Asia from health food companies that insist on proof of quality and traceability in order to protect the integrity of their brands.
Click below to watch a NZ exporter discussing the benefits that VelTrak will confer on our industry.
- Eliminates the need for farmers and buyers to manually record tag numbers and dates
- Eliminates the need for farmers to keep copies of paper VSDs for audit - all eVSDs are stored electronically and are searchable
- Greatly reduces the risk of human error
- Provides cloud-based data security (VelTrak data is stored on the servers of one of the world’s largest and most reputable cloud providers)
- Enables every registered user (and auditors) to rapidly retrieve data for a ‘business’
- Enables data on velvet transactions and inventory movements to be rapidly searchable and accessible
- Provides vets with the RCS status of a farm before agreeing to supply velvet tags
- Vets can log the tags allocated to their farmer clients with the click of a barcode scanner
- Makes it easy for vets to manage their tag inventory and to efficiently order tags
- Spares farmers from having to do any VSD paperwork. All farmers need to do is to tag their velvet correctly and promptly confirm an eVSD for each velvet consignment that leaves their farm
- Reduces the risk to buyers of trade being halted because of a suspected food safety incident: the affected product and the supplying farm can be rapidly identified and ring-fenced if necessary
- Provides buyers and packhouses with an efficient inventory management system, with swift forward and back tracing of product and an online archive of stock and transactions.
Bespoke design and testing
VelTrak software has been created specifically for the NZ deer industry by a company specialising in IT for the primary sector. Similarly, the scanners and barcode formats were selected specifically for deer velvet – taking into account the different types of user within the industry – with the help of a NZ company that is a global leader in UHF scanning technology.
UHF chipped identification tag
The key tracing technology used by VelTrak is a UHF RFID chip embedded into the VelTrak tag. The chip does not contain information about the stick or its provenance: that is stored in the cloud database.
UHF was selected as the type of RFID. This is because it allows many chipped items to be scanned at once. This is important for businesses dealing in large volumes of velvet. Other forms of RFID chip, such as LF tags, are unsuitable as only one tag can be scanned at a time.
Confidentiality and data access
VelTrak has been designed to ensure that confidentiality is maintained. It is a ‘one-up, one-down’ traceability system as required by NZ food safety law. Users see only the data that relates to the business from which they received velvet and the data relating to any business to which they have supplied velvet.
At this stage customers in the market cannot see the farm of origin of velvet. But down the track, some customers will doubtless want to scan a stick and see a photo and story about where the velvet comes from – the farm, the farmers and the deer. This is something we may explore, subject to exploring the privacy implications and getting the informed buy-in of the farmers concerned.
When users log on to VelTrak, their interface and the actions they can carry out are specific to their type of user. For instance, only veterinary practices will be able to allocate velvet tags to farmers and only farmers will be able to approve draft eVSDs.
Scanners are either handheld devices, most suited to scanning small shipments in the field, or a fixed scanner suited to scanning larger shipments in a packhouse. VelTrak has been developed to work with only one model of handheld scanner – the Zebra. This is to meet the unique needs of the NZ velvet industry, keep software development costs manageable and to limit the number of upgrades needed over time.
The barcodes on the tags, with the ‘GTIN’ numbers underneath, allow veterinarians to easily allocate tags to a farmer without needing to purchase a UHF scanner. Customers in world markets can also use them to verify that the velvet comes from New Zealand and meets our strict food safety and animal welfare standards.
Barcode scanners are not practical for buyers or packhouses dealing with large numbers of sticks at the height of the season.
Each tag has an associated UHF chip number, but the GTIN -- as the visible number – is the number displayed on eVSDs and entered into VelTrak for traceability searches.
If a farmer wishes to link a stick of velvet to the stag from which it was removed, the velvet tag number can be entered against the stag's NAIT number into farm management systems at velvetting, using a bar code scanner. Farm management software companies can advise on how best to do this.
Most users interact with the VelTrak database through the VelTrak website. Like all websites, this is accessible through smartphones, tablets and PCs.
To ensure confidentiality, all users (veterinarians, farmers, buyers and packhouses) must be registered and have a unique password to log-in to the website. The only information users can view is that which is relevant to their role.
Some information on the database is added automatically, based on the profile of the person doing the scanning (for instance, the identity of the velvet buyer) or the farm to whom the tags have been allocated. Other information relevant to the individual consignment -- such as velvet weight or identity of the person doing the velvetting -- must entered by the buyer or farmer.
What do our customers say about VelTrak?
Demand in recent years from major health food companies in South Korea has dramatically expanded the market for our velvet. They welcome VelTrak.
It provides them with the proof of integrity and traceability they need to protect the reputation of their brands. It’s what these companies have been asking us for.
Here’s what some of them said when we told them that we had developed VelTrak:
Ashley Chung, Chief Marketing Officer
BD & Marketing Division, Yuhan Care
“Health food is our business, so we have to be 100% certain the velvet we buy is safe and comes from healthy deer. VelTrak will prove to us that it comes from a farm in New Zealand where food safety and animal welfare are of the highest standards.”
Kiyul Kim, Team Leader,
Korea Ginseng Corporation
“We always buy NZ velvet, because it’s the best in the world. But even with the best food products there are risks. VelTrak will help us manage those risks. Thank you, NZ deer farmers, VelTrak is a great initiative.”
Dr Gyong Jai, Lee,
Leading Oriental Medicine Doctor
“NZ velvet is premium and higher quality than velvet from other countries. I welcome VelTrak. It will prove that the velvet I am buying genuinely comes from a New Zealand farm.”
What and why?
What is VelTrak?
VelTrak is a fully electronic, web-based system that enables velvet to be tracked and traced each step of the way from the farm to the market (and vice-versa).
Why was VelTrak developed?
Domestic and overseas market regulators require accurate, time-sensitive traceability for all animal products intended for human consumption. The UHF RFID technology chosen for VelTrak offers the best solution for our markets.
VelTrak builds on the great work done by farmers to upgrade their sheds and freezers to comply with the MPI Regulated Control Scheme (RCS).
VelTrak will help secure the premium position that NZ velvet now enjoys in South Korea over velvet from competing countries. It is also expected to be a major selling point when marketing our velvet to health food companies in China, Taiwan and elsewhere.
It proves to customers that the world’s best deer velvet is produced on quality assured NZ farms and meets our stringent food safety and animal welfare standards.
Wasn’t our velvet already traceable?
Yes. But the previous paper-based system was slow, inefficient and potentially subject to human error.
VelTrak allows velvet to be tracked and traced much more rapidly and accurately if and when needed.
In the unlikely event of food safety or biosecurity crisis, VelTrak will enable the affected supplier or consignment to be quickly identified, enabling trade to continue, with confidence, in unaffected velvet.
Can VelTrak be copied by competitors?
Other producers do not have the technology we have developed for VelTrak. Dishonest traders will find it extremely difficult to counterfeit the tags and pass off other velvet as being from New Zealand.
The market benefits
What do our overseas customers think of it?
The major health food companies in South Korea welcome VelTrak. It increases their confidence that the velvet they are buying genuinely comes from New Zealand and meets our strict food safety and animal welfare standards. It provides them with the proof of integrity and traceability they need to protect the reputation of their company and its brands.
What information do overseas customers get when they scan a VelTrak tag?
When a customer scans the barcode on a VelTrak tag they are able to confirm that the stick comes from New Zealand and meets all our animal welfare and food safety requirements.
At this stage customers cannot see the farm of origin of velvet. But down the track, some customers will doubtless want to scan a stick and see a photo and story about where the velvet comes from – the farm, the farmers and the deer. This is something we may explore, subject to exploring the privacy and security implications, and getting informed agreement from the farmers concerned.
Do all buyers support VelTrak?
Most buyers are supportive of protecting the industry so are largely in favour of the concept. But like any new technology being rolled out to the rural sector, some buyers are concerned that there may be teething problems. DINZ is doing all it can do to minimise the risk that these might occur.
Tags and costs
Is there a special type of tag?
Yes. Each stick of velvet must be tagged with a ‘wristband-style’ black VelTrak tag. The new tags carry a barcode and an embedded UHF RFID chip, each carrying a code that is unique to that tag.
The blue tags used in previous seasons are no longer valid and should be destroyed. Unused black tags may be carried over from season to season.
Will vets still supply farmers with tags?
Yes. Before allocating them to farmers, the vet clinic records the tag numbers on the VelTrak website. They can do this using their clinic barcode scanner or they can type in the numbers manually.
What if the beam on the stick is too thick for the tag?
The black tags are the same size as those used in previous seasons. These have been long enough for all except a few very large sticks. With these large sticks, wrap the tag around another part of the antler where it does fit and cannot fall off.
Do not stick two tags together end-on-end, as this will result in two readings when the consignment is scanned.
What about spiker and regrowth?
All sticks that can retain a tag – including regrowth and spiker – should be individually tagged. If it cannot retain a tag securely, then place it a clean bag with other sticks of the same grade and tag the bag.
If my neighbour runs out of tags, can I lend them some of mine?
No. Your tags link the vet who supplied them to your farm, to the buyer, to the exporter, and finally to the overseas customer. The whole purpose of VelTrak is to provide this unbroken electronic chain that links individual sticks of velvet to a particular farm.
Can we still sell velvet into the food chain if we’re in the process of a RCS audit or NVSB supervisory checks?
Yes. Tags allocated to you will be active in the system so you can tag and supply your velvet and an eVSD will still be able to be raised by a depot or packhouse while you are going through a routine audit or check.
I understand farmers have to pay for tags. Why?
Tags are part-paid for by DINZ levies. Farmers pay the balance of the cost. This is to discourage the mis-use or loss of the tags and to spread costs fairly across users.
Vets are billed by DINZ for the tags and they may pass this cost on to their farmer clients, along with an appropriate mark-up to cover their handling and inventory costs.
The DINZ recommended retail price for the 2021/22 season is 49 cents, including GST, a tag.
Why doesn’t DINZ simply charge farmers for the tags directly?
We looked at this, but a DINZ-based billing system would be more costly for levy payers in the long-run. Because vets already have automated billing systems for their clients, it is far more efficient to use these instead.
Also, having vets directly involved in tag supply links VelTrak to the delivery of the NVSB programme that gives farmers the ability to velvet their own deer. It also ensures all tagged velvet comes from stags that were velvetted either by a deer vet or by a NVSB-accredited farmer.
What other costs are there?
DINZ has paid for the development of VelTrak (~$450K). It will continue to fund software development, maintenance and upgrades from levy funds.
To participate in VelTrak, buyers and packhouses need to purchase Zebra-brand UHF RFID scanners. While these are significant investments in the long-term reputation of NZ deer velvet, they allow the industry to get the full market benefit from the major investments deer farmers have already made bringing their deer sheds and freezers up to MPI Regulated Control Scheme standards.
Do the tags still work after velvet processing?
We have tested the tags to ensure they survive all processing methods. Trials have shown that when tagged velvet arrives in the market after freezing, cooking and drying, the tags are still attached, look clean and tidy and the UHF chips are readable.
Who needs to register on VelTrak?
All farms, vet clinics and businesses associated with velvet removal, procurement, warehousing, processing and packing for shipment need to be registered with VelTrak.
All deer farms, vet practices and velvet businesses known to DINZ were emailed invitations to register with VelTrak in 2021. If you have not received one of these invitations, or have had difficulty becoming registered, please ring the DINZ office for assistance.
What happens if a farmer doesn’t register?
In order to sell their velvet for export, or for use as a food product, a farmer must be registered with VelTrak and tag their velvet with VelTrak tags.
Anyone velvetting in unregistered facilities and outside our industry-agreed standards will find it very difficult to sell their velvet.
This will reinforce the integrity of the industry and help protect the investment everyone has made in the production and marketing of quality assured velvet.
Can multiple people in our business register with VelTrak?
Yes. The initial ’primary user’ for the business can specify any number of colleagues who can register on VelTrak to carry out VelTrak transactions on behalf of their business.
When a staff member leaves your business, please remember to remove them as a user.
Can everyone at my operation just share the same login and password?
We advise you not to do this because anyone with your password can make legal declarations that bind you.
It’s better to formally register trusted employees and colleagues as members of your team on the VelTrak website and make them responsible for keeping their own password secure. You will then have a record of all transactions made under their log-in.
What does VelTrak mean for farmers?
Does VelTrak mean more paperwork for farmers?
No. VelTrak is designed to make things easier for farmers.
You no longer need to record tag numbers and fill out a paper VSD. Instead, the firm that buys your velvet generates a draft electronic Velvet Status Declaration eVSD for you to approve in VelTrak.
When your velvet is collected or received in their store they will scan it with an UHF RFID scanner. VelTrak will then automatically generate the eVSD.
You will be sent an email telling you the eVSD is waiting for your approval in VelTrak. Once you get this email, it is important for you to promptly check and approve the eVSD.
Your velvet can then be forwarded for export or processing and you can get paid.
How long will it take before the eVSD is ready for approval?
The time-frame will vary. With a private sale it could be virtually immediate. In the case of firms that use a central depot, it could be several days. Your buyer will let you know when you should expect to receive the email and we strongly encourage you to approve the eVSD as soon as you receive it.
Do we need to scan the tags on-farm?
No. The buyer will do that. They will then email you an eVSD capturing all the stick numbers.
Can we enter data against the stick such as stag ID, weight and grade?
Not in VelTrak itself, but you can enter the tag barcode numbers and other data about the stag into your farm management records alongside the stag’s NAIT number.
If you want to, you can scan the barcodes with a barcode scanner and enter the numbers into your farm management software electronically. Barcode scanners cost from $100 to $300.
Any handheld scanner that can read barcodes in the ITF-14 format should work with VelTrak tags. One such scanner is the Zebra LS2208, but please check with the retailer/supplier before buying this or any other scanner, so you are sure it will work with VelTrak.
Your farm management software supplier can advise you how to integrate a barcode scanner into your recording system.
Can I record my stag details on the new tags?
No. We ask that nothing is written onto the new tags. Remember these tags will go all the way to the market. When customers see them they should be clean and presentable.
Can we still choose to use paper VSDs and other paper records?
No. For VelTrak to function efficiently and deliver the benefits, the industry and its participants need to systematically capture all relevant data in one database.
Are NVSB velvet record books still needed?
Yes. NVSB velvetters still need to record velvetting sessions and veterinary drug information in velvet record books.
Will the tags still have a printed number?
Yes, the barcode will have a unique, human-readable, number printed underneath. This is the number that will be entered into VelTrak if a stick needs to be tracked forward or back. However to initiate eVSDs, only UHF RFID scanned files of tag numbers can be entered into VelTrak. This is done automatically by the RFID scanner.
We don’t use email. How can we participate in the system?
VelTrak is a digital system that requires users to have an email address. If you do not have access to email, please ring the DINZ office and we can discuss your options.
My shed has mobile coverage but no internet connectivity – can we still get eVSDs sorted at the time of velvet pick-up?
Yes, your buyer can scan your velvet and prepare the eVSD on VelTrak by “hotspotting” the scanner to a mobile phone. You can approve the eVSD in your shed by logging onto VelTrak on your smartphone, if you have mobile data enabled.
My shed doesn’t have phone signal or internet connectivity in the velvetting shed – how can the eVSDs be created for us?
No problem. Your buyer can scan your consignment in the shed, then when they get connectivity they will be able to send the scanned tag numbers to VelTrak. The eVSD will then be raised for you to approve when you have internet access.
If my buyer does the scanning off-farm, how will I know all the sticks have been captured without having counted them first?
Our performance testing shows that errors will be rare. As at present, there is no need for you to cross-check the exact number and identifiers of sticks listed in the eVSD, as the traceability system will function smoothly even if there is an occasional error.
It is only if the number of sticks listed in a draft eVSD is vastly different to what you recall being in the consignment that you would indicate an issue to your buyer.
If the scan misses a tag, will I still be paid for that velvet?
VelTrak is independent of the commercial arrangements you have with your buyer, so if you are paid by weight and grade, you’ll still be paid on the same basis.
Will buyers still send me a payment advice that lists the number of sticks, weights and grades of product we supply?
VelTrak is not an invoicing/payment system. Buyers will continue to use their own systems to calculate payments due to you.
What if our buyer sends us the eVSD for someone else?
VelTrak will send a draft eVSD only to the farm that a vet allocated the tags to. If you receive an eVSD for a consignment you do not recognise, this may mean someone else is using tags allocated to you. This could happen if your vet makes an error when allocating tags in VelTrak or if you give your tags to another farmer.
When you obtain tags from the vet, it’s a good idea to log on to VelTrak to check that the tags have been correctly allocated to you. It is also sensible to keep the tags in a secure place when they are not being used.
How can I avoid unused tags from being accidentally scanned on the farm?
The best way to avoid accidentally scanning tags is to keep all unused tags in a cool, clean, dry, secure place that is at least 2 metres away from any area where velvet may get scanned.
Can velvet competitions use the database to identify competition sticks?
Yes, administrators of velvet competitions can apply to DINZ to have temporary VelTrak access to a tool that provides the farm of origin of competition sticks.
What does VelTrak mean for vets?
Does each separate vet in a practice need a dedicated allocation of tags?
No, tags are allocated by DINZ to a named practice or even to a network of clinics, if their vets velvet on behalf of multiple clinics in the network. These tags can be allocated to clients by any vet who has been registered by the primary user in VelTrak as an associate of the network or clinic.
If our clinic runs out of tags, can we get some from another local clinic?
No, unless you are part of a network of clinics that is registered on VelTrak as a single entity. If you obtained tags from an unrelated clinic, you wouldn’t be able to allocate them, as the system would spot a mismatch between the clinic to whom the tags have been allocated and your VelTrak registration, which is associated with a different clinic.
Do tag packs have series information so that we can select the right tags to allocate without needing to scan each individual tag?
Yes, packs are labelled with barcodes of the starting and ending tag of their contents and this series information can be entered into VelTrak to record transfers of multiple tags.
What sort of tag scanner do we need?
Vets can use any off-the-shelf barcode scanner. These scanners are available for $100-$300 each. Barcode reader apps on smartphones are not suitable.
Can vets still allocate and distribute individual tags to clients with fewer than 50 tags?
Yes but, as happens currently, those individual tags will need to be individually recorded against the recipient, whether by using barcode scanning or manually entering the first and last tag numbers.
Can we distribute tags to clients who have failed an RCS audit or who aren’t NVSB accredited?
No. Vets must not provide tags to clients who have failed a RCS audit. Nor is it legal to allocate tags to farmers who aren't NVSB accredited, unless a deer vet does their velvetting.
If a client wishes to do their own velvetting, a named vet in your business must have a current NVSB velvetting contract with them.
What does VelTrak mean for buyers, packhouses and processors?
What sort of tag scanner will we need?
Buyers and packhouses need a specific model of UHF-tuned RFID scanner in order to participate in VelTrak. Ring the DINZ office for advice on the models that may be suitable for your operation and the name of the supplier.
Are the RFID tags readable through the bags, bins and crates we use?
Yes. We have tested chip readability in various bulk containers commonly used in the velvet industry and performance has been excellent in all of them.
Can we scan tags on-farm rather than in the depot or packhouse – or require the farmer to scan the tags?
Depots and packhouses can choose whether to scan consignments on-farm or at their premises. We have set up VelTrak to allow only a registered buyer or packhouse to enter the scanned data files into VelTrak.
Can we apply tags to velvet when it arrives at the depot or packhouse?
No, tags can be applied only on the farm where the velvet is removed.
After picking up velvet from several farms on the same collection run, will we need to separate it at scanning to get the correct draft eVSDs raised?
No. You can scan mixed consignments in one ‘read’ and VelTrak will generate the correct transfers and allow you to raise the correct eVSDs.
If it is easier, you can even scan a large truckload in multiple reads that do not necessarily relate to each discrete farm of origin and VelTrak will still sort all the scanned sticks from those files into the correct number of eVSDs.
If we are unable to create an eVSD because velvet is either not tagged or incorrectly tagged, or because of RCS non-compliance, will we still have to pay the farmer?
It is a commercial matter between the buyer and the farmer supplier as to what happens if a buyer receives velvet that does not meet regulatory requirements. However, such velvet cannot legally enter the food chain.
We don’t touch, grade or mingle the velvet in our facility; would we really need to record a transfer of product on VelTrak?
No. The risk of product cross-contamination or contamination on your premises would be too low to warrant data capture in VelTrak.
You will need to maintain compliance with the RCS though. Also, in order to comply with food safety legislation or for commercial reasons, you may need to keep consignment-level records about product passing through your premises (including declaring that while velvet has been under your control, it has met its cold chain management requirements).
As an agent, do I need to use VelTrak to record velvet consignments to a packhouse?
Yes, you still need to complete an Agent VSD (AVSD) for movements to packhouses and this should be done in VelTrak. Even if you are the person or entity selling the velvet overseas, and are only using an exporter for packing and shipping, you still need to raise an AVSD in VelTrak for the movement to the packhouse/exporter.
Can we use VelTrak to record movements to and from a coolstore, for processing or even export?
Yes. As an optional extra for packhouses, VelTrak allows production of a Velvet Transfer Record (‘VTR’) if you wish to scan consignments in and out, so long as each stick is already covered by a valid eVSD and AVSD, if applicable. If you use a VTR for stick-level recording of your exports, you’ll still need to complete e-certifications required by MPI.
Can the system be used by us as our inventory for RCS purposes?
Because weight and grade information is not recorded on VelTrak it will be of limited value for recording stocks on hand for other business purposes.
But by showing all velvet that has been supplied by a farm into the food chain (although not velvet still in storage on-farm), VelTrak will show the most crucial information for RCS compliance purposes.
Can the system be used by us to generate a supplier payment advice?
The system could provide useful information on the date and weight of consignments but we have not developed an invoicing tool within VelTrak.
How will I show eVSDs to auditors?
You can demonstrate compliance with traceability requirements by logging into VelTrak and accessing the eVSDs automatically archived against your account. You can search by the period of interest, buyer or supplier.
Can we let overseas customers trace sticks back to our business and even farms?
This sort of access is not planned at present, but is expected to appeal to some customers. We may explore this opportunity in the future after looking at the privacy and security implications, and the need to get the informed buy-in of the farmers concerned.
How secure is my information on VelTrak?
How much information about my business can other participants see on VelTrak?
VelTrak is a ‘one-up, one-down’ traceability system as required by our food safety laws. Buyers, warehouses and processors can only see data relating to an individual shipment from the farm or firm they received it from. An exporter who buys from an agent won’t see the names of the farmers the agent bought it from.
When users log on to VelTrak they land in a part of the website that is specific to their category of user. For instance, only veterinary practices will be able to allocate velvet tags to farmers on VelTrak and only farmers will be able to approve draft eVSDs.
Will any business we supply be able to see information on all other velvet we’ve supplied elsewhere?
No. The next person in the chain is only able to see information on the immediate origin of the velvet in that consignment.
If I’m buying velvet from an agent or other intermediary, can I see the farm of origin of the velvet?
No. The Agent VSD in VelTrak will only identify the name of the firm that supplied you with the consignment.
Will there be any limits on DINZ access to the data?
Yes. DINZ may use VelTrak data for industry-good purposes, but its access is limited by terms and conditions published on the DINZ website.
Will parties such as MPI or IRD have direct access to the system?
No. Non-velvet industry participants are not entitled to register with VelTrak.
However, MPI has the legal power under food safety and other legislation to obtain information on the farm of origin of particular sticks of velvet. It may also request tracing of velvet that has been through a particular farm or other premise, but it will ask DINZ or system registrants for this information. Access will be granted in line with the agreed protocol and within the confines of the law.
The IRD has the power to access information about the business activities of any taxpayer.
Can we be asked by MPI to demonstrate where a particular stick of velvet has come from or been sent to?
Yes, MPI will still be able to require you to provide one-up one-down traceability on request. VelTrak will make such a request easy to comply with.
What assurance do we have that our information can’t be accessed by a hacker?
It is not possible to say ‘never’. All forms of business records can potentially be stolen. However security of data has been a key requirement for the firms that have designed and built VelTrak.
Why was UHF RFID technology chosen for VelTrak?
VelTrak uses UHF (ultra-high frequency) RFID technology because it is much better suited than low frequency RFID to reading and recording multiple individual tags in a single scan.
This is important for velvet buyers and receivers handling thousands of sticks a day at the peak of the season. VelTrak is not set-up to accept UHF scanning data from vets, because most vet practices are already set-up with barcode scanners.
This protocol governs the confidentiality of VelTrak data. That is how data about individuals and organisations is protected from third party disclosure without authorization of the person or organization concerned. In scope is data use by DINZ and data disclosure to third parties.
Out of scope are matters of data privacy, privacy being a person’s ability to control the availability of data about themselves. That is because the data entered into VelTrak about a person or business is either automatic or extremely limited in scope, users have direct access to all their personal information by virtue of logging into VelTrak and the considerations relating to data entry are dealt with in the VelTrak terms and conditions of use that each user must accept.
Out of scope are matters of data security – how all VelTrak information is protected from inadvertent or fraudulent disclosure, is wired into VelTrak itself by virtue of the systems, products and processes used to create and run the software on the various devices.
As the database creator and owner, DINZ asserts its right to deal in VelTrak data for industry good purposes and subject to the law. The DINZ board approved principles for the sharing of VelTrak information in July 2020 and determined that the CEO could approve detailed protocols applying those principles. While protocols are to cover foreseeable circumstances relating to data access, unforeseeable circumstances where data access is sought wlll arise, for which the principles should be applied directly.
To view the VelTrak data protocol, click here >>