With the USDA expected to issue a final rule on animal-disease traceability in the coming months, the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) beat them to the punch, announcing their own requirements to take effect on January 1.
The rule states that at change of ownership, all sexually intact adult beef cattle 18 months and up, and Mexican-origin cattl, must have a TAHC-approved permanent identification. Nursing calves, steers, spayed heifers, bulls and heifers under 18 months are exempt (unless a heifer has calved). Ranchers also can move an animal directly from their premise to slaughter without an ID.
According to the commission, the state unofficially suspended brucellosis testing requirements, and the associated ear-tag requirements, in August 2011. That change left the TAHC without an effective means to trace cattle in a disease investigation. The new rule replaces the tagging requirement associated with brucellosis testing.
The TAHC expects the Texas rule will put the state’s beef industry in compliance with the anticipated USDA Animal Disease Traceability rule for interstate movement.
The commission notes that animal-health officials routinely conduct animal-health investigations for which identification and traceability are critical, including 30 Brucellosis reactors, over 300 Trichomoniasis-affected bulls and 22 bovine tuberculosis cases so far in 2012. They expect the new rule to enhance their ability to trace animal movements quickly and effectively.
A complete list of acceptable identification devices and methods is available on the TAHC website, along with additional details. The commission expects the most commonly used devices to include USDA metal tags, brucellosis calfhood vaccination tags, US origin 840 series Radio Frequency Identification tags (RFID), and breed registration tattoos or firebrands.
The commission will provide USDA metal tags free of charge, and has a limited number of free applicator pliers for producers wishing to use them. Interested ranchers should contact their local TAHC field staff or USDA/APHIS Veterinary Services representatives to obtain the free tags.
The TAHC will maintain a database of assigned identification numbers, but will not track individual change-of-ownership transactions.
Read more from the Texas Animal Health Commission
Find details of USDA’s Animal Traceability Framework on the APHIS website.