USDA's new livestock traceability regulations that took effect Feb. 26 target animals moving interstate – between states. They involve more ID tagging and paperwork.
The purpose is so if there's an animal disease outbreak, agricultural agencies can track down where the affected animals came from and any other animals they may have come in contact, explains Maryland State Veterinarian Guy Hohenhaus. Animals moving within states are still governed by state regulations.
Here's a quick refresher on what you need to know about regulations pertaining to shipping livestock beyond your state border.
Breed registration tattoos and registration numbers will still be official ID for sheep, goats and other species, but not for cattle.
Unless specifically exempted, livestock must be officially identified with a state-specific tag and accompanied by an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection or documents such as owner-shipper (bills of way) statements or brand certificates. That includes all sexually intact cattle over 18 months of age, all female cattle of any age and all males born after March 11, 2013.
Livestock with official Identification and with an owner-shipper statement moving directly to an approved livestock facility such as a market or tagging facility may enter without an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection. But cattle and bison moving directly to slaughter must have a USDA-approved back tag plus a way bill or bill of sale.
Be forewarned: Auction markets don't want to become the enforcers of interstate movement, points out Stan Fultz, University of Maryland Extension dairy specialist in Frederick County. Animals should be tagged before going to market. If they aren't, expect to pay for the cost of tagging.