Animal ID in the land down under | TSLN.com

Animal ID in the land down under

The Taylor family, from left to right: Hayden, Butch, Yarra, Turill (two months) and Jennifer.

Cattle producers, either cow/calf or yearling operators, have been outspokenly for or against an animal ID program in the United States. Many believe the current system of brands and brucellosis tattoos are more than sufficient for the traceaback of a questionable animal. Others believe that there must be a government managed program to do it adequately.

Whichever side of the argument the producer is on, more facts and actual testimony from a cattle producer are always welcome and needed to balance the pros and cons. Several U.S. states have now made the National Animal Identification System mandatory, but it’s still very new and unproven. A track record isn’t yet possible, so no one, including those states, knows if the system can or will work.

There is a place, though, that has had an ID system in place for 10 years. Far away, on the other side of the world from the U.S.A., lies the continent of Australia. Its large herds of livestock that run on gigantic stations are akin to the big ranch country and large herds of cattle and sheep in the western U.S.

The system there is called the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) and is required of all livestock owners.

Our “neighbor-down-under” is Butch Taylor, a native Australian, and his South Dakota bride, Jennifer, live about 45 miles southwest of Katherine, Northern Territory, Australia, which is in the mid-section of the northern part of the continent. The station that Butch manages, and surprisingly, is the only employee on, is Sturt Downs. It comprises 172,500 acres and runs 5,500 head of Brahman and Brahman cross cattle.

Butch, Jenn and their young family enjoy the tropical climate, with its wet and dry seasons. The wet season is usually from November to March with an average rainfall of about 48 inches. Leading up to the wet season, daytime temps can reach 110 degrees with the humidity building steadily. The dry season, April to October, has lower humidity and lower temperatures, with the coolest months being June and July. Temps never reach freezing, and a cold winter’s morning would be in the mid 40’s. With the average temperature at around 80 degrees, it is perfect habitat for the Brahman cattle.

Recommended Stories For You

When a calf is born there, it is ID tagged either at birth or at branding time. The calf keeps that tag for the duration of its life. If the tag is lost, it has to be replaced and a new file is created for that animal.

“Tags are not that hard to keep in the ear if they are inserted correctly,” says Butch.

If the animal never leaves the property where it was tagged, it will not be scanned again. If it leaves that property, it is scanned when it arrives at the new location.

“Some stations are using the NLIS tag as a management tool and scanning and recording the movement of cattle from one paddock (pasture) to another,” says Taylor. “They have devised their own database for this and it isn’t related or required by the NLIS.”

When the animal is culled or shipped off the station, it is scanned when it arrives at the sale barn, slaughter plant, feedlot, etc…

If the tagged animal dies, the tag can be scanned in and the animal recorded as dead on the database. If the tag cannot be found or if the animal is never found, after an extended period of time, the database automatically deletes them. In the case of a found tag, the tag is scanned and is entered as found without the animal. The tags are a one-time use tag and cannot be used on another animal.

The cost for the tags is $3.75 apiece, with one tag per animal (incidentally, the cost for tagging the 5,500 head of cattle on Sturt Station is $20,625). The applicator is $30 and is similar to the applicators used on regular tags and can be used for both kinds. The wand that is used to scan the tag costs $500. It’s not mandatory, but is highly recommended, says Taylor, “You can physically read and write down the numbers off the ear tag and then log into the database and manually type all the information in,” but he stresses, “This is very time consuming. The wand simply scans the tag, you download the information into your computer and transfer it to the database.”

An automatic scanner to read the tags costs $2,500. This too is optional, but takes the person out of the equation.

“The tag is scanned and recorded as the animal runs past the scanning plate, which is usually attached to the side of the chute or the unloading area,” says Taylor.

A computer to record the data and transfer it to the database on the internet is another expense, and most people use a laptop. Cell phones can also be used, as it only requires the device to connect to the internet.

Taylor believes that there are other applications for the tags, and says, “It could easily be expanded to be a much more useful tool to ID cattle that have had antibiotics, steroids, and suchlike.”

As a whole, Taylor believes the system is a good way to track the whereabouts of cattle, but adds, “That’s only if everyone uses is correctly.”

Whether all producers in Australia share Butch’s positive attitude about the system or not, we don’t know. The cost of the tags is substantial for larger operations, though like other livestock related expenses, its relative.

Learning how things are done somewhere else is always interesting and our shared lifestyles, though on opposite sides of the earth, are really not that different. Butch and Jennifer Taylor are still our neighbors, even though they are from the land down under.

Cattle producers, either cow/calf or yearling operators, have been outspokenly for or against an animal ID program in the United States. Many believe the current system of brands and brucellosis tattoos are more than sufficient for the traceaback of a questionable animal. Others believe that there must be a government managed program to do it adequately.

Whichever side of the argument the producer is on, more facts and actual testimony from a cattle producer are always welcome and needed to balance the pros and cons. Several U.S. states have now made the National Animal Identification System mandatory, but it’s still very new and unproven. A track record isn’t yet possible, so no one, including those states, knows if the system can or will work.

There is a place, though, that has had an ID system in place for 10 years. Far away, on the other side of the world from the U.S.A., lies the continent of Australia. Its large herds of livestock that run on gigantic stations are akin to the big ranch country and large herds of cattle and sheep in the western U.S.

The system there is called the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) and is required of all livestock owners.

Our “neighbor-down-under” is Butch Taylor, a native Australian, and his South Dakota bride, Jennifer, live about 45 miles southwest of Katherine, Northern Territory, Australia, which is in the mid-section of the northern part of the continent. The station that Butch manages, and surprisingly, is the only employee on, is Sturt Downs. It comprises 172,500 acres and runs 5,500 head of Brahman and Brahman cross cattle.

Butch, Jenn and their young family enjoy the tropical climate, with its wet and dry seasons. The wet season is usually from November to March with an average rainfall of about 48 inches. Leading up to the wet season, daytime temps can reach 110 degrees with the humidity building steadily. The dry season, April to October, has lower humidity and lower temperatures, with the coolest months being June and July. Temps never reach freezing, and a cold winter’s morning would be in the mid 40’s. With the average temperature at around 80 degrees, it is perfect habitat for the Brahman cattle.

When a calf is born there, it is ID tagged either at birth or at branding time. The calf keeps that tag for the duration of its life. If the tag is lost, it has to be replaced and a new file is created for that animal.

“Tags are not that hard to keep in the ear if they are inserted correctly,” says Butch.

If the animal never leaves the property where it was tagged, it will not be scanned again. If it leaves that property, it is scanned when it arrives at the new location.

“Some stations are using the NLIS tag as a management tool and scanning and recording the movement of cattle from one paddock (pasture) to another,” says Taylor. “They have devised their own database for this and it isn’t related or required by the NLIS.”

When the animal is culled or shipped off the station, it is scanned when it arrives at the sale barn, slaughter plant, feedlot, etc…

If the tagged animal dies, the tag can be scanned in and the animal recorded as dead on the database. If the tag cannot be found or if the animal is never found, after an extended period of time, the database automatically deletes them. In the case of a found tag, the tag is scanned and is entered as found without the animal. The tags are a one-time use tag and cannot be used on another animal.

The cost for the tags is $3.75 apiece, with one tag per animal (incidentally, the cost for tagging the 5,500 head of cattle on Sturt Station is $20,625). The applicator is $30 and is similar to the applicators used on regular tags and can be used for both kinds. The wand that is used to scan the tag costs $500. It’s not mandatory, but is highly recommended, says Taylor, “You can physically read and write down the numbers off the ear tag and then log into the database and manually type all the information in,” but he stresses, “This is very time consuming. The wand simply scans the tag, you download the information into your computer and transfer it to the database.”

An automatic scanner to read the tags costs $2,500. This too is optional, but takes the person out of the equation.

“The tag is scanned and recorded as the animal runs past the scanning plate, which is usually attached to the side of the chute or the unloading area,” says Taylor.

A computer to record the data and transfer it to the database on the internet is another expense, and most people use a laptop. Cell phones can also be used, as it only requires the device to connect to the internet.

Taylor believes that there are other applications for the tags, and says, “It could easily be expanded to be a much more useful tool to ID cattle that have had antibiotics, steroids, and suchlike.”

As a whole, Taylor believes the system is a good way to track the whereabouts of cattle, but adds, “That’s only if everyone uses is correctly.”

Whether all producers in Australia share Butch’s positive attitude about the system or not, we don’t know. The cost of the tags is substantial for larger operations, though like other livestock related expenses, its relative.

Learning how things are done somewhere else is always interesting and our shared lifestyles, though on opposite sides of the earth, are really not that different. Butch and Jennifer Taylor are still our neighbors, even though they are from the land down under.

Cattle producers, either cow/calf or yearling operators, have been outspokenly for or against an animal ID program in the United States. Many believe the current system of brands and brucellosis tattoos are more than sufficient for the traceaback of a questionable animal. Others believe that there must be a government managed program to do it adequately.

Whichever side of the argument the producer is on, more facts and actual testimony from a cattle producer are always welcome and needed to balance the pros and cons. Several U.S. states have now made the National Animal Identification System mandatory, but it’s still very new and unproven. A track record isn’t yet possible, so no one, including those states, knows if the system can or will work.

There is a place, though, that has had an ID system in place for 10 years. Far away, on the other side of the world from the U.S.A., lies the continent of Australia. Its large herds of livestock that run on gigantic stations are akin to the big ranch country and large herds of cattle and sheep in the western U.S.

The system there is called the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) and is required of all livestock owners.

Our “neighbor-down-under” is Butch Taylor, a native Australian, and his South Dakota bride, Jennifer, live about 45 miles southwest of Katherine, Northern Territory, Australia, which is in the mid-section of the northern part of the continent. The station that Butch manages, and surprisingly, is the only employee on, is Sturt Downs. It comprises 172,500 acres and runs 5,500 head of Brahman and Brahman cross cattle.

Butch, Jenn and their young family enjoy the tropical climate, with its wet and dry seasons. The wet season is usually from November to March with an average rainfall of about 48 inches. Leading up to the wet season, daytime temps can reach 110 degrees with the humidity building steadily. The dry season, April to October, has lower humidity and lower temperatures, with the coolest months being June and July. Temps never reach freezing, and a cold winter’s morning would be in the mid 40’s. With the average temperature at around 80 degrees, it is perfect habitat for the Brahman cattle.

When a calf is born there, it is ID tagged either at birth or at branding time. The calf keeps that tag for the duration of its life. If the tag is lost, it has to be replaced and a new file is created for that animal.

“Tags are not that hard to keep in the ear if they are inserted correctly,” says Butch.

If the animal never leaves the property where it was tagged, it will not be scanned again. If it leaves that property, it is scanned when it arrives at the new location.

“Some stations are using the NLIS tag as a management tool and scanning and recording the movement of cattle from one paddock (pasture) to another,” says Taylor. “They have devised their own database for this and it isn’t related or required by the NLIS.”

When the animal is culled or shipped off the station, it is scanned when it arrives at the sale barn, slaughter plant, feedlot, etc…

If the tagged animal dies, the tag can be scanned in and the animal recorded as dead on the database. If the tag cannot be found or if the animal is never found, after an extended period of time, the database automatically deletes them. In the case of a found tag, the tag is scanned and is entered as found without the animal. The tags are a one-time use tag and cannot be used on another animal.

The cost for the tags is $3.75 apiece, with one tag per animal (incidentally, the cost for tagging the 5,500 head of cattle on Sturt Station is $20,625). The applicator is $30 and is similar to the applicators used on regular tags and can be used for both kinds. The wand that is used to scan the tag costs $500. It’s not mandatory, but is highly recommended, says Taylor, “You can physically read and write down the numbers off the ear tag and then log into the database and manually type all the information in,” but he stresses, “This is very time consuming. The wand simply scans the tag, you download the information into your computer and transfer it to the database.”

An automatic scanner to read the tags costs $2,500. This too is optional, but takes the person out of the equation.

“The tag is scanned and recorded as the animal runs past the scanning plate, which is usually attached to the side of the chute or the unloading area,” says Taylor.

A computer to record the data and transfer it to the database on the internet is another expense, and most people use a laptop. Cell phones can also be used, as it only requires the device to connect to the internet.

Taylor believes that there are other applications for the tags, and says, “It could easily be expanded to be a much more useful tool to ID cattle that have had antibiotics, steroids, and suchlike.”

As a whole, Taylor believes the system is a good way to track the whereabouts of cattle, but adds, “That’s only if everyone uses is correctly.”

Whether all producers in Australia share Butch’s positive attitude about the system or not, we don’t know. The cost of the tags is substantial for larger operations, though like other livestock related expenses, its relative.

Learning how things are done somewhere else is always interesting and our shared lifestyles, though on opposite sides of the earth, are really not that different. Butch and Jennifer Taylor are still our neighbors, even though they are from the land down under.

Cattle producers, either cow/calf or yearling operators, have been outspokenly for or against an animal ID program in the United States. Many believe the current system of brands and brucellosis tattoos are more than sufficient for the traceaback of a questionable animal. Others believe that there must be a government managed program to do it adequately.

Whichever side of the argument the producer is on, more facts and actual testimony from a cattle producer are always welcome and needed to balance the pros and cons. Several U.S. states have now made the National Animal Identification System mandatory, but it’s still very new and unproven. A track record isn’t yet possible, so no one, including those states, knows if the system can or will work.

There is a place, though, that has had an ID system in place for 10 years. Far away, on the other side of the world from the U.S.A., lies the continent of Australia. Its large herds of livestock that run on gigantic stations are akin to the big ranch country and large herds of cattle and sheep in the western U.S.

The system there is called the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) and is required of all livestock owners.

Our “neighbor-down-under” is Butch Taylor, a native Australian, and his South Dakota bride, Jennifer, live about 45 miles southwest of Katherine, Northern Territory, Australia, which is in the mid-section of the northern part of the continent. The station that Butch manages, and surprisingly, is the only employee on, is Sturt Downs. It comprises 172,500 acres and runs 5,500 head of Brahman and Brahman cross cattle.

Butch, Jenn and their young family enjoy the tropical climate, with its wet and dry seasons. The wet season is usually from November to March with an average rainfall of about 48 inches. Leading up to the wet season, daytime temps can reach 110 degrees with the humidity building steadily. The dry season, April to October, has lower humidity and lower temperatures, with the coolest months being June and July. Temps never reach freezing, and a cold winter’s morning would be in the mid 40’s. With the average temperature at around 80 degrees, it is perfect habitat for the Brahman cattle.

When a calf is born there, it is ID tagged either at birth or at branding time. The calf keeps that tag for the duration of its life. If the tag is lost, it has to be replaced and a new file is created for that animal.

“Tags are not that hard to keep in the ear if they are inserted correctly,” says Butch.

If the animal never leaves the property where it was tagged, it will not be scanned again. If it leaves that property, it is scanned when it arrives at the new location.

“Some stations are using the NLIS tag as a management tool and scanning and recording the movement of cattle from one paddock (pasture) to another,” says Taylor. “They have devised their own database for this and it isn’t related or required by the NLIS.”

When the animal is culled or shipped off the station, it is scanned when it arrives at the sale barn, slaughter plant, feedlot, etc…

If the tagged animal dies, the tag can be scanned in and the animal recorded as dead on the database. If the tag cannot be found or if the animal is never found, after an extended period of time, the database automatically deletes them. In the case of a found tag, the tag is scanned and is entered as found without the animal. The tags are a one-time use tag and cannot be used on another animal.

The cost for the tags is $3.75 apiece, with one tag per animal (incidentally, the cost for tagging the 5,500 head of cattle on Sturt Station is $20,625). The applicator is $30 and is similar to the applicators used on regular tags and can be used for both kinds. The wand that is used to scan the tag costs $500. It’s not mandatory, but is highly recommended, says Taylor, “You can physically read and write down the numbers off the ear tag and then log into the database and manually type all the information in,” but he stresses, “This is very time consuming. The wand simply scans the tag, you download the information into your computer and transfer it to the database.”

An automatic scanner to read the tags costs $2,500. This too is optional, but takes the person out of the equation.

“The tag is scanned and recorded as the animal runs past the scanning plate, which is usually attached to the side of the chute or the unloading area,” says Taylor.

A computer to record the data and transfer it to the database on the internet is another expense, and most people use a laptop. Cell phones can also be used, as it only requires the device to connect to the internet.

Taylor believes that there are other applications for the tags, and says, “It could easily be expanded to be a much more useful tool to ID cattle that have had antibiotics, steroids, and suchlike.”

As a whole, Taylor believes the system is a good way to track the whereabouts of cattle, but adds, “That’s only if everyone uses is correctly.”

Whether all producers in Australia share Butch’s positive attitude about the system or not, we don’t know. The cost of the tags is substantial for larger operations, though like other livestock related expenses, its relative.

Learning how things are done somewhere else is always interesting and our shared lifestyles, though on opposite sides of the earth, are really not that different. Butch and Jennifer Taylor are still our neighbors, even though they are from the land down under.

Cattle producers, either cow/calf or yearling operators, have been outspokenly for or against an animal ID program in the United States. Many believe the current system of brands and brucellosis tattoos are more than sufficient for the traceaback of a questionable animal. Others believe that there must be a government managed program to do it adequately.

Whichever side of the argument the producer is on, more facts and actual testimony from a cattle producer are always welcome and needed to balance the pros and cons. Several U.S. states have now made the National Animal Identification System mandatory, but it’s still very new and unproven. A track record isn’t yet possible, so no one, including those states, knows if the system can or will work.

There is a place, though, that has had an ID system in place for 10 years. Far away, on the other side of the world from the U.S.A., lies the continent of Australia. Its large herds of livestock that run on gigantic stations are akin to the big ranch country and large herds of cattle and sheep in the western U.S.

The system there is called the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) and is required of all livestock owners.

Our “neighbor-down-under” is Butch Taylor, a native Australian, and his South Dakota bride, Jennifer, live about 45 miles southwest of Katherine, Northern Territory, Australia, which is in the mid-section of the northern part of the continent. The station that Butch manages, and surprisingly, is the only employee on, is Sturt Downs. It comprises 172,500 acres and runs 5,500 head of Brahman and Brahman cross cattle.

Butch, Jenn and their young family enjoy the tropical climate, with its wet and dry seasons. The wet season is usually from November to March with an average rainfall of about 48 inches. Leading up to the wet season, daytime temps can reach 110 degrees with the humidity building steadily. The dry season, April to October, has lower humidity and lower temperatures, with the coolest months being June and July. Temps never reach freezing, and a cold winter’s morning would be in the mid 40’s. With the average temperature at around 80 degrees, it is perfect habitat for the Brahman cattle.

When a calf is born there, it is ID tagged either at birth or at branding time. The calf keeps that tag for the duration of its life. If the tag is lost, it has to be replaced and a new file is created for that animal.

“Tags are not that hard to keep in the ear if they are inserted correctly,” says Butch.

If the animal never leaves the property where it was tagged, it will not be scanned again. If it leaves that property, it is scanned when it arrives at the new location.

“Some stations are using the NLIS tag as a management tool and scanning and recording the movement of cattle from one paddock (pasture) to another,” says Taylor. “They have devised their own database for this and it isn’t related or required by the NLIS.”

When the animal is culled or shipped off the station, it is scanned when it arrives at the sale barn, slaughter plant, feedlot, etc…

If the tagged animal dies, the tag can be scanned in and the animal recorded as dead on the database. If the tag cannot be found or if the animal is never found, after an extended period of time, the database automatically deletes them. In the case of a found tag, the tag is scanned and is entered as found without the animal. The tags are a one-time use tag and cannot be used on another animal.

The cost for the tags is $3.75 apiece, with one tag per animal (incidentally, the cost for tagging the 5,500 head of cattle on Sturt Station is $20,625). The applicator is $30 and is similar to the applicators used on regular tags and can be used for both kinds. The wand that is used to scan the tag costs $500. It’s not mandatory, but is highly recommended, says Taylor, “You can physically read and write down the numbers off the ear tag and then log into the database and manually type all the information in,” but he stresses, “This is very time consuming. The wand simply scans the tag, you download the information into your computer and transfer it to the database.”

An automatic scanner to read the tags costs $2,500. This too is optional, but takes the person out of the equation.

“The tag is scanned and recorded as the animal runs past the scanning plate, which is usually attached to the side of the chute or the unloading area,” says Taylor.

A computer to record the data and transfer it to the database on the internet is another expense, and most people use a laptop. Cell phones can also be used, as it only requires the device to connect to the internet.

Taylor believes that there are other applications for the tags, and says, “It could easily be expanded to be a much more useful tool to ID cattle that have had antibiotics, steroids, and suchlike.”

As a whole, Taylor believes the system is a good way to track the whereabouts of cattle, but adds, “That’s only if everyone uses is correctly.”

Whether all producers in Australia share Butch’s positive attitude about the system or not, we don’t know. The cost of the tags is substantial for larger operations, though like other livestock related expenses, its relative.

Learning how things are done somewhere else is always interesting and our shared lifestyles, though on opposite sides of the earth, are really not that different. Butch and Jennifer Taylor are still our neighbors, even though they are from the land down under.

Go back to article