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USDA bitten by proposed animal ID system

by the Fish Site Editor
12 July 2007, at 1:00am

US - What is proposed as a systematic method for tracking the spread of disease by livestock has turned into a monster with 50 heads for every one potentially impacted by the program.

“That’s exactly what it has become,” said John Heller, animal identification coordinator for the Colorado Department of Agriculture. “That’s a perfect description of it.”

The National Animal Identification System or NAIS program was first introduced in November 2004. Nearly three years later the program is still in draft form and has met serious opposition in Colorado, especially in Lincoln County.

Three-step process

The first step is registering the premises where the livestock is kept with the United States Department of Agriculture. The required information includes contact name, business name, physical address of the premises, business organization such as individual or partnership, type of business such as production, exhibition or slaughtering plant, phone numbers, e-mail address and type of livestock. Anyone boarding animals would have to work with the property owner to get the premises registered.

The second step is tagging each head. Livestock includes cattle, hogs, sheep, goats, poultry, horses, bison, deer, elk, alpacas, llamas, fish and shellfish. Tagging can be done with ear tags, microchip or a radio frequency device. Group or lot identification would be allowed only where groups of animals are managed together from birth to death and not co-mingled with other animals.

The third step is animal tracking. Each time a tag is applied, an animal needs to be re-tagged, is missing, co-mingled or sold, the event would have to be reported to the government within 24 hours.

If an animal is co-mingled with other animals, such as at a sale or show and then becomes sick, the system will allow the USDA to track down every animal the diseased animal has come in contact with, and, in turn, every animal that has come in contact with the animals that co-mingled with the diseased animal.

“It’s an itinerary of the animal’s travels,” said Tom McBride, Adams County livestock extension agent. “It’s a good idea. On a large scale like the National Western Stock Show it could make a big difference. With a show that big you’ve got livestock coming in from several different states.”

Source: Brighton Standard Blade

the Fish Site Editor