Bruce Schultz, Sanson, David W.
CROWLEY – A nationwide animal identification system is still in the planning stages, and its future is uncertain, according to Dr. David Sanson, cattle researcher at the LSU AgCenter’s Rosepine Research Station.
"A couple of years ago I would have told you it’s going to happen. Now, I don’t know," Sanson said at a short course held recently (May 19) in Crowley.
The session was broadcast to remote locations in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.
The National Animal Identification System currently is voluntary, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed a mandatory program.
Sanson reminded participants that misinformation is widespread, and many decisions remain to be made.
The goal of the program is to allow investigators to trace an animal’s whereabouts and to identify what other animals it had contact with, all within 48 hours, Sanson explained.
The LSU AgCenter expert said the proposal under consideration is to assign each animal a random 12-digit number preceded by the U.S. country code, 840. In addition, premise identification numbers would be assigned to ranches, packing plants, stockyards and any other locations that house animals.
The numbers would be recorded on a radio transmitter that could be worn on an ear tag, Sanson said, and a receiver could be used to pick up the data instantly and send it to a computer.
Retention of the electronic ear tags have not been a problem in young calves or in the feedyard, but keeping them on mature cows has proven more difficult, especially if cattle are fed hay with the string not removed, he said. A capsule, called a rumen bolus, is available that can be placed in the stomach of cattle. That capsule can contain the identification number, but it’s impossible to tell by looking if an animal has been given one.
The animal identification database would contain the animal ID and the premise ID number where each animal currently was located. If a situation arose where an animal’s location needed to be determined, the premise ID database would be searched to determine where it was.
The animal ID database contains information on the animals, but no people’s names are included in the database.
Under proposals being considered, animals that never leave a particular farm would not have to be tagged, Sanson said, but any animal that ever was transported to another location would have to be tagged.
Dr. Maxwell Lea, state veterinarian for the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, said livestock owners can register their farms and ranches now with LDAF and receive a premise identification number.