Drylot Beef Cow-Calf Production

North Dakota State University photo.

The federal government will require most cattle to bear a radio frequency tag in the next few years, according to the Kentucky Office of the State Veterinarian.

“By 2023, only RFID tags will be considered official identification,” Kentucky State Veterinarian Robert C. Stout said. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture is requiring the RFID tags and phasing out metal tags to improve our ability to trace animal movement quickly and efficiently in the event of a livestock disease outbreak. A strong traceability system is absolutely essential to maintaining open overseas markets for Kentucky and U.S. cattle.”

In April 2019, the USDA published the “Advancing Animal Disease Traceability: A Plan to Achieve Electronic Identification in Cattle and Bison” factsheet outlining the transition plan and specifications.

According to the factsheet, “the change to RFID will greatly enhance animal health officials’ ability to locate specific animals quickly during an outbreak.” It also intends to reduce the number of animals involved in disease investigations.

“We appreciate the Kentucky Department of Agriculture for being proactive in getting the word out about this important cattle identification transition,” said Dave Maples, executive director of the Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association. “The transition from metal to RFID tags will strengthen the traceability system by providing information faster and protecting our markets in the event of a disease outbreak.” 

The timeline for completing the transition to RFID tags is as follows:

• Dec. 31, 2019:  Free metal National Uniform Ear Tag System tags no longer will be provided by USDA. Producers and markets may purchase and apply metal tags in 2020.

• Jan. 1, 2021: USDA no longer will approve production or application of metal tags.

• Jan. 1, 2023: RFID ear tags will be required for beef and dairy cattle and bison moving interstate.

Animals that will require official, individual RFID tags include:

• Beef cattle and bison that are sexually intact and 18 months or older;

• Beef cattle and bison used for rodeo or recreational events (regardless of age);

• Beef cattle and bison used for shows or exhibitions;

• All female dairy cattle; and

• All male dairy cattle born after March 11, 2013.

Cattle not being moved off the farm will not be required to have an RFID tag.

“In effect, all cattle presented for sale at Kentucky livestock markets will be considered to be moving interstate,” Stout said. “All animals requiring official ID will be required to have an RFID tag.”

A premises identification number, or PIN, is required to purchase official ID tags. An interactive map by the USDA aims to help producers find resources for obtaining a PIN at www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/traceability/state-pin/.

Producers in the Four States can find information at the following websites:

• Missouri: https://agriculture.mo.gov/animals/health/animalid.php.

• Kansas: https://agriculture.ks.gov/divisions-programs/division-of-animal-health.

• Oklahoma: http://www.ag.ok.gov/ais/animaltrac.pdf.

• Arkansas: https://www.agriculture.arkansas.gov/ar-volunteer-premises-id-system.

For more information, view the USDA’s “Advancing Animal Disease Traceability: A Plan to Achieve Electronic Identification in Cattle and Bison” factsheet at https://www.aphis.usda.gov/traceability/downloads/plan-to-achieve-eid-factsheet.pdf