Farm Facts & Furrows

by OMAFRA Ag Rep Brian Bell

Livestock identification

Cattle and sheep farmers are required to identify all animals as they leave the farm with a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag. It has been an encouraged practice since about 2000 and mandatory for cattle since 2010. It is more recent for sheep farmers. It is expected mandatory identification will be in place for goat farmers in 2018. Tags are usually purchased by farmers and inserted before an animal leaves home. However there are designated “tagging sites” where animals can be tagged for a fee. Animals must go directly to these sites from home. Tagging sites are generally livestock auction facilities including Keady, Brussels, OLEX, Cookstown, Hoards Station, etc. Tags are registered in the farmer’s name.  The goal is the protection of animal health, public health and food safety. For example, on occasion BSE has been identified with individual animals and traced back to source herd. Using RFID tags all animals in contact with the diseased animal in its lifetime can be located and quarantined. As well, the ability to age verify animals with the use of RFID tags has reopened trade markets since the major BSE outbreak in 2003. Tags can be purchased locally through local agribusiness locations or directly through Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA).