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Board of Animal Health to give out free 840 RFID cattle tags

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Board of Animal Health is giving free 840 radio frequency identification tags to cattle producers while supplies last.

Kyle Shipman, BOAH director of field operations, said the U.S. Department of Agriculture is allocating 840 RFID tags to every state in hopes of increasing the use of the tags.

Electronic identification in the form of RFID tags is the standard for identifying cattle in the state of Indiana, Shipman said. RFID tags make recordkeeping more efficient and accurate since the tag numbers can be read and recorded digitally.

Shipman said that official identification is required for all ages of dairy cattle and for beef cattle 18 months of age and older. The official identification must be applied to cattle upon change of ownership and for exhibitions.

“USDA is providing each state with a limited quantity of 840 RFID tags for cattle to increase the use of electronic identification tags in breeding cattle across the nation,” said Shipman, adding that while the tags are paid for by the USDA, they do no include the applicator tool.

Shipman said that official identification helps state animal health officials trace livestock movements quickly and efficiently during animal disease investigations.

“Faster response time to a disease event helps protect Indiana’s cattle population and agricultural economy,” Shipman said.

Shipman said having an official identification system is a vital part of the USDA’s Animal Disease and Traceability plan, which is a nationwide effort to reduce the amount of time and resources that are needed to trace the movements of food animals between farms and markets as part of disease investigations.

“As part of the ADT effort, Indiana has required premises identification for all cattle, swine, cervid, sheep and goat sites since 2006, as well as individual animal identification since 2010. Being able to trace animal movements rapidly is vital to controlling the spread of contagious diseases and reducing the impact these diseases have on our livestock industry,” Shipman said.

Shipman said RFID tags and the corresponding records allow BOAH to trace animal movements in just minutes, instead of days or weeks, which helps speed up its response.

Cattle producers can order free 840 RFID tags, while supplies last, by visiting www.in.gov/boah/2328.htm.

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