The implementation of effective biosecurity policies across the food chain has become increasingly vital to control the spread of livestock diseases and ensure the wellbeing of animals and humans alike around the world. The main prerequisite for such policies is livestock identification, which includes cow ear tags and other livestock ID tags, as this enables the tracking and monitoring of all livestock movement over their lifetime.
Disease outbreaks among farm animals such as cows, pigs, sheep, goats, and poultry can result in significant physical and economic damage to the animals, the farm owners, the industry, and the region. In the past year alone, over a million pigs had to be culled in China as a result of the African Swine Fever (ASF) epidemic, which has also severely affected domestic and wild pigs in other countries in Asia, Africa, and parts of Europe. And over the years, in various countries, there have been outbreaks of numerous other dangerous diseases, including Tuberculosis, Brucellosis, Foot & Mouth Disease, Dioxine, and Plague.
These risks can be managed and reduced through animal biosecurity, which is a broad term used to describe the actions and measures that can be taken to prevent disease from being introduced through animals into a specific geographic region. In order for these measures to work effectively, all stakeholders in the supply chain – from farmers to food producers, retailers, local councils and governments – should take collective responsibility for implementing them at the farm, regional, and national levels.
In the case of farmers, biosecurity practices include the standardizing of hygiene procedures both onsite and offsite, the setting up of protection and surveillance zones, and the implementation of methods to identify, control, monitor, and record all livestock movements from birth.
At the regional or national level, industry authorities, local councils, and governments can mandate biosecurity standards, policies, and systems that enforce compulsory identification, monitoring, and control measures for tracking the movement of farm animals from the time they are born and ensuring their lifetime traceability.
For example, in Australia, all livestock – born, bought, sold, or moved along the supply chain have to be tagged with an accredited National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) identifier according to the National Traceability Performance Standards. In addition, a Property Identification Code (PIC) is assigned to identify different locations; and each movement made by the identified animals is recorded in a central NLIS database. This means that the NLIS can easily provide the animal’s life history, and in the case of disease outbreaks, quickly identify animals that may have been infected and report on this to other stakeholders in the supply chain to reduce the impact of a potential livestock disease epidemic.
Step 1 for biosecurity: Cow tags and other livestock ID tags
The effective implementation of such livestock traceability systems requires the creation of a smart environment that integrates agriculture with digital solutions and is based on one central pillar – the ability to identify livestock. This facilitates the tracking and monitoring of all livestock movement, as well as the collection of this data so that it can be easily accessed when the need arises.
At Allflex, we understand that accurate animal identification is the cornerstone of animal traceability and biosecurity. Every year, our market-proven livestock identification solutions – including tissue sampling tags and collectors, Electronic Identification (EID) products such as cow ear tags, applicators, EID readers, and other accessories and visual tags – are used to identify and manage hundreds of millions of animals globally. These innovative solutions can also be integrated with our smart livestock monitoring solutions to enable farmers, companies, and countries to enforce and participate in branding programs, comply with regulatory traceability and biosecurity programs, and gather the intelligent and actionable information needed to safeguard the health and wellbeing of animals and humans alike.
Moving towards the future of biosecurity with automatic electronic monitoring
During the last decade, private and official identification systems have begun to converge. This, together with the increasing demand for traceability across the supply chain, has increased adoption of electronic livestock identification and monitoring. In turn, this has improved the efficiency and reliability of data collected at multiple points across the supply chain. These factors, together with near-ubiquitous mobile connectivity, are creating exciting opportunities in the area of automated livestock traceability.
One potential approach is to develop comprehensive electronic identification and monitoring systems that integrate EID tags with readers at more locations, making it possible to automatically collect livestock data from multiple sources into centralized and cloud-based national databases. This will facilitate full traceability for every animal from the time it is born. It will also verify all livestock data, ultimately eliminating the issue of human errors in paper records and ensuring a more accurate picture of each animal’s life story across the board.
Highly valuable data can then be made available to farmers, local authorities, veterinarians, slaughterhouses, producers, retailers, and others in the food supply chain, and even consumers – for full transparency about the origins and health profiles of all livestock and related food products.
At Allflex, we believe in combining agriculture with technology to improve the wellbeing of animals and humans while contributing to a more sustainable future. Need some help integrating intelligent livestock identification and monitoring solutions on your farm to promote biosecurity? Contact us for more information?