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Agriculture Today

Tag! You’re it! Or are you?

Tag! You’re it! Or are you?
The animal tags are similar to the USDA Brucellosis “Bangs” metal tags, but are silver in color.

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Wilson County News
December 12, 2012
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New state animal ID program begins Jan. 1

Cattlemen across the state are preparing for the state animal traceability identification program that begins Tuesday, Jan. 1. Readers of the Wilson County News have been updated as data has been received from the Texas Animal Health Commission. While attending local and state cattle meetings, the cattlemen have aired their main concerns: What is their responsibility and what are the requirements involved for the selling of animals through the local auction barns?

Recently, the state animal health agency presented a question-and-answer type article, “New Cattle Traceability Rule Question & Answer: What you need to know.” The state-mandated program only applies to sexually intact adult beef cattle 18 months and older and all ages of Mexican-origin cattle used for roping purposes, and dairy cattle.

Beginning Jan. 1, the Texas Animal Health Commission may restrict the movement of livestock being sold to another that is not in compliance -- tagged with the approved permanent identification devices as proposed by the state. Identification is required for all change of ownership -- private treaty or animals sold through local auction barns.

The Texas Animal Health Commission recommends that owners contact their local auction barn or veterinarian for assistance to be in compliance. Some markets may provide a tagging service for the handling of the animals, since the tags are available at no charge from the Texas Animal Health Commission office and other locations.

Only animals transported from the farm or ranch for slaughter are exempt from being tagged, because plant records are used for this purpose.

Registered ranch brands will not be recognized by state officials as an official identification by the Texas Animal Health Commission under the new traceability rules.

For information regarding auction barns, see “Texas Animal ID.”

Weak cattle

In the past, the Independent Cattlemen’s Association of Texas and the Livestock Marketing Association of Texas have voiced concerns about adult cattle sold through auction barns, then sold for slaughter, and the use of back tags versus metal tags or other approved official state identification tags. The groups contend that if animals were forced in chutes to be tagged, “downers” -- cattle that have difficulty standing -- could increase. The groups asked that the state rules reflect the proposed federal rules, which allow for the use of back tags for animals destined for slaughter.

The Texas Animal Health Commission, during its September meeting, proposed an amendment stating that the animal health inspector, in consultation with market ownership or management, can allow for an exemption or untagged status. These animals must be sold or consigned to a slaughter facility only.

See “Exempt animals” for more regarding untagged animals and who could be held responsible for movement.

Cattlemen are reminded that the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) premises number has been abandoned. The free metal tags being distributed by the state officials are assigned to the producer, not the premises or land, as proposed with the NAIS program. The issuance of these tags will be maintained in a Texas Animal Health Commission-managed database. The state program is being implemented to be in compliance when the federal program begins, with the final rule not released as of press time.

For more information or tags, contact:

•Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) Traceability Team at 1-800-550-8242, ext. 733, or visit

•TAHC Region 5 for ranchers in Wilson, Bexar, Karnes, and Atascosa counties, 361-358-3234

•Deason Animal Hospital, 1712 D Street, Floresville or call 830-393-4567

•TAHC Region 7 for ranchers in Guadalupe and Gonzales counties, 512-446-2507.

Texas Animal ID

The following data provided by the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) in a Nov. 29 factsheet pertains to the selling of animals in auction barns.

Q: “What is the legal obligation of the livestock market in the mandatory ID program?

A: “A change of ownership is a transaction between a seller and a buyer, and the seller is responsible for assuring his animals have official identification. The market, however, can be considered as an agent representing the seller. Animals that do not meet the identification requirement can be restricted from being moved and therefore held at the market.

Q: “Do I need to keep records of individual identification when I sell my animal(s)?

A: “While keeping records is not required when animals are sold as part of a livestock breeding or production operation, producers are strongly encouraged to do so. Dealers are required to keep records, including individual animal identification, as part of a separate rule.

Q: “If a trace back occurs, can the TAHC require a market to release its sales records? What if there are no records of individual identification?

A: “TAHC rules require markets to keep certain records for a minimum of five years, and to make the records available for inspection by TAHC representatives. One of the requirements is to keep records of individual animal identification numbers of animals sold. The TAHC anticipates market operators will voluntarily keep records correlating eartags and backtags on their own accord, to provide the best service to their customers.”

Exempt animals

The following data provided by the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) in a Nov. 29 factsheet pertains to exempt or untagged animals sold in auction barns.

•If a non-slaughter buyer takes possession of an exempt animal, the seller is technically in violation of the animal identification traceability rule. “But if a buyer or the livestock market is knowingly violating the requirement then the TAHC can take compliance action on them if necessary.”

•The auctioneer can refuse to accept a higher bid on an exempted animal if he is uncertain if the bidder is buying for slaughter.

•“If an exempted animal is sold to a non-slaughter buyer” and “the buyer or a livestock market knowingly takes action that facilitates violation of the requirement, the TAHC can take compliance action on all appropriate parties.”

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