Producers Must Now Register Livestock

Attention Manitoba livestock producers. Tell the government where your animals are.

A new program launched this month requires producers to register the land on which their livestock are kept with the province.

Called premises identification, it’s part of a national initiative to develop a livestock traceability program which identifies farm animals, spots their location and traces their movements.

Once fully operational, the system will enable officials to pinpoint the source of an animal health emergency and track down affected livestock quickly before a disease outbreak can spread.

Premises ID will eliminate the guesswork in finding the precise location of an outbreak, officials said at a Sept. 30 news conference in Winnipeg to announce the initiative.

“We don’t want vets driving around in the middle of the night looking for barns,” said Andrew Dickson, Manitoba Pork Council general manager.

Dr. Wayne Lees, Manitoba’s chief veterinarian, said farmers need only provide general information, including the land where livestock are kept, the types of livestock and their approximate numbers.

“All we’re asking for are the primary premises – the location where the animals are most likely to be found most of the year,” Lees said.

“This would be, in most cases, the home quarter.”

So far, 98 per cent of all hog farms, 80 per cent of poultry operations but only 10 per cent of cattle herds and sheep flocks have been registered, officials said.

Lees said the province is working closely with marketing boards and producer organizations to get farmers to register.

He admitted some producers have expressed skepticism about the program but said it’s gaining acceptance once people learn more about it.

National traceability has three components. Producers, Ottawa and the provinces are each responsible for one.

Producers register their animals in a central database using ID tags or other identification. The provinces are responsible for premises identification. The federal government handles animal movement and tracking systems.

Agriculture ministers said last year a national traceability system would be in place by 2011. Federal Minister Gerry Ritz insists that’s still the target, although the cattle industry doubts ID scanners at assembly yards and auction markets are up to the task. [email protected]

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“All we’re asking for are the primary premises.”

– DR. WAYNE LEES

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