New rules regarding identification of livestock from one state to another became effective on March 11, 2013.  These rules were designed to assist with traceability of livestock in the event of a disease outbreak in the United States. The new rules were originally posted on January 9, 2013, but were postponed until March while revisions were made after several comments from the public. The new rules apply primarily to cattle and include several changes in recording identification for health certificates accompanying cattle transported across state lines. The new rules describe the classes of animals required to have official identification, the types of official identification allowed and the record keeping and documentation requirements for the new identification rules.
The classes of cattle required to have official identification before transportation across state lines include all sexually intact cattle greater than 18 months old, all female dairy cattle of any age, all dairy males born after March 11, 2013, and all cattle going to out of state rodeos, shows or exhibitions. The greatest change regarding classes of cattle to be identified is dairy males, primarily the inclusion of dairy breed steers. Currently, non-intact beef cattle are not included in the new requirements.
Several types of identification have been deemed as “official.” The most recognizable and common are the USDA metal ID tags, primarily the orange Brucellosis tags and the silver ID tags provided by each. Other means of acceptable official identification include brands on cattle from states with recognized brand inspection authority. Official brand certificates must accompany health certificates, and registration tattoos that are legible. A copy of the animal’s registration certificate must accompany the health certificate as well.
Cattle required to be identified must be individually identified on an interstate health certificate. Each tag number or tattoo must be listed and accompanied by the appropriate supporting documents for registered animals. Animals are to have only one form of official tag in their ears. Copies of health certificates will be submitted to the state vet’s office of the state of origin, and maintained by the veterinarian of record for 5 years.
There are some exceptions to the identification rules. Cattle moving directly to a livestock market in another state are exempt as long as they are accompanied by an owner shipper statement signed by the owner of the animals at the time of shipment. Cattle transported to an out of state veterinary facility are exempt if ownership does not change during the visit.
There have been many questions regarding tagging and the new requirements. Most of the burden may fall on livestock markets as many purchased cattle are transported to out of state facilities for feeding. Many questions will arise as the new traceability rules are instigated.
Dr. Mike Bloss, DVM, owns and operates Countryside Animal Clinic with his wife, Kristin Bloss, DVM. The mixed animal practice is located in Aurora, Mo.


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