Louisiana’s Office of Animal Health and Food Safety has new tool to track cattle

Source: ldaf.state.la.us

Louisiana’s Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., said state animal health officials implemented a new state of the art traceability system June 4 for livestock that will allow animal health officials to identify a single animal if foreign animal disease or terrorist attack threatens a state herd.

Louisiana’s new electronic livestock check-in system was tested at an auction stockyard in Baton Rouge. Picture courtesy LDAF.

“The Office of Animal Health and Food Safety is beefing up the capability of the highly successful Livestock Brand Commission to build a foundation to trace livestock as animals moves through the food chain,” Strain said. “The system protects and supports the Louisiana producer in the case of disease outbreak and creates a quick reference log to track stolen or lost animals. The information collected will be managed separately from any federal system”

Strain said the electronic livestock check-in system was tested at Dominique’s Auction Stockyard in Baton Rouge.

“The United States Department of Agriculture has mandated that all states create a program to trace any animal entering interstate commerce,” Strain said. “Our program collects the animal’s identification, including metal ear tag number, electronic ear tag number, back tag, brand and other identifying information at the receiving dock of the stockyard.

“Funding for the program came from a grant from Homeland Security,” Strain said. “Homeland Security understands that the protection of our American food supply is vital.”

When livestock are dropped off at the auction, the brand or health inspector uses a hand-held computer to record the ear tags, back tag, brand, sex, breed, color and owner information directly into the device. That information is uploaded to the official’s laptop computer.

A metal or electronic ear tag may be placed on the animal and that number is also recorded.

The collected information is managed solely by the LDAF. From this database, key information can be immediately researched on animals by any authorized state user from any computer through a secure log-in to the LDAF database, said John Walther, assistant commissioner of Animal Health and Food Safety.

“A state-authorized user could look up information on any animal that might have been reported sick, missing or stolen,” Walther said. “With this system, a potential problem could be resolved quickly. It also will minimize impact on a farm or ranch, their neighbors and livestock owners in any particular area in the event of a disease outbreak or contamination.”

The state’s new livestock tracking system also ties into an electronic certificate of veterinary inspection program (eCVI) called Vet-Sentry that will allow private veterinarians to produce an electronic health certificate to better facilitate interstate movement of livestock.

For more information, contact the Louisiana Animal Health office at 225-925-3962 or animalhealth@ldaf.state.la.us.