Cows to be electronically tracked

US - Shiawassee County's dairy and beef cattle will now wear electronic tags on their left ears when leaving the farm after a new state mandate went into effect Thursday.
calendar icon 3 March 2007
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As part of the state's bovine tuberculosis eradication efforts, all cows that move off their premises must now be identified with a Radio Frequency Identification Device electronic tag, said Michigan Farm Bureau Livestock and Dairy Specialist Ernie Birchmeier.

Birchmeier said TB can still be found in the northeastern lower peninsula and has shown to be spread from nose-to-nose contact and shared feed piles. Knowing where all cattle have moved will allow for quicker response times for disease control and eradication efforts.

Birchmeier said if an epidemic of hoof and mouth disease, seen in Europe in 2001, happened here the new technology would allow for quicker containment and reduce spread of the highly contagious disease.

The mandate is through the Michigan Animal Identification System and Michigan Department of Agriculture and is applied only to cattle that are leaving farms. Cattle do not need to be tagged until they are going to be moved, but it is recommended by the MDA that all animals be tagged at a young age.

“(Producers) need to contact the Department of Agriculture and register their premises, and if the producer has had a TB test in the past, which they all should have...their farm is more than likely already registered,” Birchmeier said.

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