Vet Sentry

USDA and Animal Health

View the APHIS regulations on interstate shipments:

Bison and Cattle:

Horses and other Equines:

Sheep and Goats:




Animal Disease Traceability as set forth by the USDA

On August 9, 2011, USDA issued a proposed rule to establish general regulations for improving the traceability of U.S. livestock moving interstate when animal disease events take place.

"Through the past two years, I have listened carefully to stakeholders throughout the country about how to reach effective animal disease traceability in a transparent manner without additional burden," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "We are proposing a flexible approach in which states and tribes can develop systems for tracing animals that work best for them and for producers in their jurisdiction. This approach offers great flexibility at the state and local level and addresses gaps in our disease response efforts."

Under the proposed rule, unless specifically exempted, livestock moved interstate would have to be officially identified and accompanied by an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection or other documentation, such as owner-shipper statements or brand certificates. The proposed rule encourages the use of low-cost technology and specifies approved forms of official identification for each species, such as metal eartags for cattle. However, recognizing the importance and prevalence of other identifications in certain regions, shipping and receiving states or tribes are permitted to agree upon alternative forms of identification such as brands or tattoos.

"Our proposal strives to meet the diverse needs of the animal agriculture industry and our State and tribal partners, while also helping us all reach our goal of increased animal disease traceability," said chief veterinary officer for the United States, Dr. John Clifford. "We believe reaching our goals on traceability will help save the industry and American taxpayer's money in the long term."

Animal disease traceability, or knowing where diseased and at-risk animals are, where they've been, and when, is very important to make sure there can be a rapid response when animal disease events take place. An efficient and accurate animal disease traceability system helps reduce the number of animals involved in an investigation, reduces the time needed to respond, and decreases the cost to producers and the government.

Traceability for Livestock Moving Interstate

Proposed Rule:
Traceability proposed rule APHIS-2009-0091

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Official Identification Numbers - Animals

Official identification numbering systems are fundamental to animal disease programs. Numbers for both individual animals and groups of animals are defined to support methods of official identification for the various species and for meeting production management practices. Official animal identification devices, such as eartags, will have an official identification number imprinted on them. Group/lot numbers are associated to the animals through records maintained by individuals responsible for the group throughout the production chain.

Official identification numbers are nationally unique numbers permanently associated with individual animals or groups of animals. Official identification numbers are associated with individual animals or groups of animals through official identification devices or methods. Official identification numbers adhere to one of the following numbering systems: National Uniform Eartagging System (NUES) Animal identification number (AIN) Location-based number system Flock-based number system Any other numbering system approved by the Administrator for the official identification of animals.

Individual Animal Numbers

Official animal numbering systems provide a way to uniquely identify individual animals. Official identification for certain species is based on identification devices (e.g., official eartags) that have an official animal number imprinted on them. Official identification devices that adhere to these numbering standards are listed in Section B of this report. The following table specifies the format for each official numbering system used for individual animals..