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Extension Agent: New cattle traceability rules go into effect Jan. 1

By By Peter J. McGuill
Nov. 13, 2012 at 5:13 a.m.

Peter McGuill

New rules regarding cattle traceability will go into effect Jan. 1. According to a press release provided by the Texas Animal Health Commission, "All sexually intact cattle, parturient or post-parturient or 18 months of age and older changing ownership must be officially identified with commission-approved permanent identification."

This new regulation has been established as a result of the commission changes on brucellosis testing. Until summer 2011, all adult cattle were required to be tested for brucellosis at the time of change in ownership and were officially identified automatically at that time.

As a result of the permanent suspension of the brucellosis testing requirement, these new requirements for animal identification have been established to provide for effective traceability in the event of a disease investigation.

According to the commission, 30 brucellosis reactors, more than 300 bovine trichomoniasis-affected bulls and 22 bovine tuberculosis cases have been investigated by the commission to date in 2012. The ability to effectively investigate and mitigate the effects of serious disease outbreaks in a rapid manner is difficult without some type of animal identification.

The commission website, tahc.state.tx.us, lists the acceptable identification devices/methods. The most commonly used devices include U.S. Department of Agriculture metal tags, brucellosis calfhood vaccination tags, U.S. origin 840 series Radio Frequency Identification tags and breed registration tattoos or firebrands. the commission encourages producers to contact their veterinarian or the commission to determine which method of tagging will be best for their operation.

Identification of cattle at change of ownership is nothing new to the industry. Longstanding regulations on identification were coupled with the brucellosis testing requirements in Texas. Although testing is no longer required, the identification rules remain in effect.

The majority of cattle in Texas change ownership through a local livestock auction or commission company. Many of these sales facilities have indicated that they will continue to tag cattle to meet the identification requirements for their customers prior to them selling.

However, these sales facilities are not obligated to provide this service. Therefore, it is recommended that you communicate with the sales facility of your choosing to determine if this service will be provided or if cattle must be identified prior to arrival at the sale.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension has agreed to assist cattle producers by partnering with the commission to make available free U.S. Department of Agriculture metal tags provided by the commission to producers wishing to use them. The tags may be obtained by contacting local commission field staff and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Veterinary Services representatives or the County Extension Office. Producers may also locate the closest tag distributor online at tahc.state.tx.us.

According to the most recent National Agricultural Statistic Service data, there are an estimated 33,000 head of beef cattle in Victoria County with an estimated economic value of more than $32 million.

For more information on animal identification requirements, contact the TAHC Traceability Team at 1-800-550-8242, Ext. 733 or the Victoria County Extension Office at 361-575-4581.

Peter J. McGuill is the Victoria County extension agent - ag and natural resources. Contact him at 361-575-4581 or pjmcguill@ag.tamu.edu.

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