USDA provides RFID ear tags for cattle

The Agriculture Department has provided radio frequency ear tags that comply with its National Animal Identification System (NAIS) to help animal health officials control bovine tuberculosis in livestock. The tags allow animal health officials to electronically identify an animal to inhibit the illness' spread, USDA said April 15.

Distributing the tags is part of the agency's strategy from its Business Plan to Advance Animal Disease Traceability by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. NAIS-compliant tags that use the official 840 numbering system provide for individual identification of livestock through a 15-digit number.

The goal is to link the cattle to their place of origin so that if there is an outbreak, officials can quickly track the movement of infected animals, USDA said. Bovine tuberculosis investigations are under way in several states.

RFID technology increases the accuracy of recording the animal's identification number, USDA said, adding that it has bought 1.5 million tags.

“Using NAIS-compliant tags with RF technology establishes a consistent data format across our animal disease programs,” said Bruce Knight, USDA's undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs.

USDA shipped 28,000 tags to California as part of an ongoing bovine tuberculosis investigation, he said.

NAIS is an information system that helps producers and animal health officials respond quickly and effectively to events affecting animal health in the United States. It uses premises registration, animal identification and animal tracing components to locate potentially diseased animals and eliminate animals from disease suspicion. It is a state/federal/industry partnership and is voluntary at the federal level.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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