Keeping track of Animal Disease Traceability – coming soon to a herd near you!


Earlier this year the USDA unveiled its plan to implement animal disease traceability (ADT) in US cattle herds. A traceability system is needed to help fight disease outbreaks and keep global trade markets accessible to US livestock producers. Animals requiring individual identification will be given electronic identification tags which use radio frequency identification (RFID) to enhance the ability to track animals from birth to slaughter. The proposed timeline for these changes is as follows:

• Starting Dec. 31, 2019 the USDA will stop providing free metal tags, also known as “brite” tags or “bangs” tags.
• After Jan, 1, 2021 It will no longer be allowable to use metal tags for official animal identification in cattle. Only RFID tags may be applied for this purpose.
• After Jan 1, 2023 RFID ear tags will be required for beef and dairy cattle and bison moving interstate. Animals previously tagged with metal ear tags will have to be retagged with RFID ear tags in order to move interstate.

It’s important to note that not all animals will require official identification. Furthermore, individual states may implement additional requirements beyond the USDA regulations. Beef cattle over 18 months of age, rodeo cattle, show/exhibition cattle, all female dairy cows, and male dairy cattle born after March 2013 moving interstate will require official animal identification. Feeder cattle and animals moving directly to slaughter are not subject to RFID requirements.

For complete details on the requirements, visit the USDA ADT website at: