A new rule on "traceability" from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will mean some changes for official livestock identification on animals shipping across state lines.
The rule, which is intended to help state and federal livestock officials "traceback" animals in case there is a disease outbreak, has been in the process of being created for some time. Hearings and public comments, including a listening session in Madison, were part of the process.
The rule, which the USDA published in the Federal Register on Jan. 9, is intended to improve animal disease traceability, according to animal health officials at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).
Effective March 11, the Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) rule will take effect and will require that livestock moving interstate must be officially identified and accompanied by a certificate of veterinary inspection, but state officials said that's what is required in Wisconsin already.
"The new rule generally requires livestock moving interstate to be officially identified and have a certification of veterinary inspection, which is consistent with the existing regulations in Wisconsin.
These records give us the ability to trace an animal to a specific location in the event of a disease outbreak," said Dr. Paul McGraw, DATCP's Assistant State Veterinarian.
The primary change for Wisconsin livestock shippers is that some forms of ID that were previously considered acceptable for cattle are no longer valid after the rule takes effect.
After March 11, cattle breed registration tattoos and registration numbers will no longer be considered official
The identification known as American ID, 982 series tags, will also no longer be valid in two years under the rule.
Breed registration tattoos and registration numbers will still be considered "official ID" for sheep, goats and other species, but not for cattle, McGraw said.
Export cattle will need to meet USDA requirements as well as identification requirements for the state of destination. All rodeo, exhibition or event cattle - including steers - will need to be officially identified.
When moving livestock across state lines, the federal rule requires that all sexually intact dairy cattle must be officially identified but sexually intact beef cattle younger than 18 months of age do not require official identification.
For animals going directly to slaughter a backtag will still work as identification and a certification of veterinary inspection (CVI) is not required, McGraw explained.
There are no changes for the animals that are going directly to slaughter under the new rule.
"Even though the federal rule sets an age limit of 18 months for sexually intact beef cattle, they will still need official ID to move into Wisconsin, in order to comply with existing state regulations," McGraw said.
Acceptable forms of animal identification, as defined in the new USDA rule, are: National Uniform Eartag System (NUES) tags (Brite tags starting with state code, nine digit alphanumeric tag.)
An example of this type of tag is the orange brucellosis calfhood vaccination tag that is affixed into the ear of calf when it is vaccinated.
Under the new USDA rule, brands on the hide of livestock are acceptable only if the state of origin and the state of destination for those animals approve and have an agreement in place.
This provision isn't much use to state livestock shippers because Wisconsin has no agreements in place and McGraw said the state has no plans at this time to develop any brand agreements.
Any other official ID approved by the USDA can be allowed under the new rule.
According to the Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium (WLIC) if an animal is officially identified, the rule does not allow anyone to add a second form of official identification unless they are adding an 840 Animal Identification Number (AIN) tag to an animal that already has a NUES tag.
Veterinarians will need to read the existing official ID number if they have one.
That portion of the rule applies to animals at markets - if an animal is officially identified when it enters a market, the rule doesn't allow anyone to add a second form of official identification unless they are adding an 840 (15-digit country coded) animal identification number tag.
Markets will need to read the existing official ID number if the animals arrive with one, according to the WLIC.
When Wisconsin livestock owners import cattle, the livestock will need a 15-digit country coded eartag, including visual and/or radio frequency ID or a NUES tag. The "Brite" tag that comes along with a brucellosis vaccination is acceptable.
For more information about animal movement, visit animal movement.datcp.wi.gov.