USDA announces new animal ID requirements for cattle moving interstate

A final phase of the national animal disease traceability rules will take effect this week, and with it, a change in the type of identification methods meeting the requirements.

Starting March 11, all official ear tags noted under the animal disease traceability requirements must be tamper-evident, approved by USDA, contain an official animal ID numbering system and an official ear-tag shield.

The recognition of manufacturer-coded numbers with the 900 series and “USA” prefix will be discontinued and producers can consider changing to 840 tags.

Accepted identification varies, depending on location, and could include brands, tattoos, ear tags, registration papers, certificates, owner-shipper statements or a combination of identification systems. For detailed information on acceptable identification, visit the USDA’s traceability website.

USDA first announced new rules for animal disease traceability in March 2013, which included a two-year transition period to adopt official ear-tag criteria. Each state was charged with reviewing policies and, if necessary, revising them to meet national standards.

“Cattle producers who are moving cattle interstate this spring are encouraged to check with both the shipping and receiving states to make sure they are complying with the change in USDA regulations,” says Ginette Kurtz, American Angus Association® director of commercial programs.

The American Angus Association offers several programs and services that comply with the current USDA rules for animal disease traceability, including the age-and-source verification program, AngusSource®.

-AngusSource is a USDA process-verified program that documents group age, source and a minimum 50% Angus genetics, while incorporating valuable information from the Association database. Calves are identified using an official AngusSource ear tag that meets USDA regulations for traceability.

-AngusSource Genetic is an additional choice for cattle producers to verify Angus-sired genetics, source and group age through the Association’s database. The neon green AngusSource Genetic tag is available in three options: visual, RFID or ChoiceSet. offers traceability compliant ear tags from Destron Fearing, as well as EID readers, syringes and other accessories that are cost-effective for any cattle producer. The interactive website allows you to build custom cattle tags, step-by-step, and preview a mockup before ordering.

According to Glenn Fischer, a senior vice president for Allflex, the new identification requirements give the industry a window of understanding about animals moving throughout different regions of the country. That’s important when it comes to tracing animal disease, but the data doesn’t end there, Fischer says.

“It’s not only something where we want to know where the diseased animals come from, but also where the good animals come from, and how we can optimize things that are successful when they move from the cow-calf level to the stocker, feeder and ultimately the packer,” Fischer says.

USDA recommends cattle producers contact their State Animal Health Official for more details on your state’s traceability activities and requirements. For more information on how the Association can assist in traceability compliance, please contact the commercial programs department at 816-383-5100 or visit

–American Angus Association