Many animal health and food safety reasons exist as to why animal identification is important. Maintaining the health and biosecurity of the national herd is an urgent issue for industry and animal health officials. The recent experience with BSE has resulted in increased support for a national Animal Identification Plan, which has been in development for several years, but opposed by some in the beef industry. Proper animal identification, together with an animal tracking system, would streamline the tracing of particular animals during a disease outbreak. A producer who practices good record keeping and animal identification would be in a better position to define which of his cattle fit a suspect list than one without such records.
Find more information about animal identification from APHIS’s Veterinary Services and the U.S. Animal Identification Plan Web sites.
Knowing what's in animal feed -- Keeping records
Given that BSE is transmitted by ingestion of prion proteins derived from diseased animals, and that those prions are known to survive the rendering process, the tracing of BSE infection will involve examination of feed records. By law (May, 1997), most mammalian protein is banned from inclusion in feed for ruminant animals. The feed production industry has become very compliant with this law. Unfortunately, the recommended practice for holding feed records on the farm is much shorter than the incubation period for BSE, so records are disposed of by the time disease is demonstrated. Some consideration should be given to holding these records for a longer period.
The following resources address feed records as part of general livestock production record keeping:
With the prohibition on slaughter of “downer” cattle, many farmers will be faced with disposing of these animals “on the farm” or paying to have them picked up for rendering or alternate disposal. In addition to learning new, efficient methods for disposing of animal carcasses, farmers should be aware of the law regarding dead animal disposal, which will vary from one state to another,
The following resources address carcass disposal in three states:
Composting is being developed as a low-volume technique. The following resources discuss this practice:
The authors would appreciate being advised of information and references that can be added to this page.