Livestock Identification: What For?
Dr. Gavin Meerdink, Beef and Feed Safety Extension Veterinarian,
University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, firstname.lastname@example.org
The identification of livestock has taken many forms and has
been the subject of a standing committee of the U.S. Animal Health
Association for most of the last century. Canada has had a mandatory
identification system for livestock in place for two years. COOL
(Country Of Origin Labeling), which requires animal identification,
has been mandated by law but has not been funded.
The recent case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) detection
in Alberta underlined the need for the ability to trace the origins
of individual animals. Thus far, the cost has been considered
too onerous for implementation. Producers are wary of regulatory
intrusion. How and when will a national livestock identification
system be implemented?
Homeland security and foreign animal disease threats may influence
the ID issue for regulatory reasons. However, identification,
particularly electronic ID, is gaining acceptance and being implemented
for economic reasons. With the ease of recording an electronic
ID at the packing plant with links to carcass quality data, cattle
feeders can better manage nutritional and other management practices
to improve efficiency. Also, buyers can better determine whose
cattle provided the best return for the investment. The cow/calf
producer learns how the offspring of the breeding herd have fared
in the commercial world and make adjustments for improvement.
The day is near when electronic ID will be required for serious
consideration by feeder market animal buyers and the animal source
history will determine the animal's worth.