Serving Minnesota and Northern Iowa.

Rules governing animal identification are changing

By Janet Kubat Willette

Date Modified: 03/28/2013 8:58 PM

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OWATONNA, Minn. — Changes to the state's animal identification system are expected to take effect next month.

Brad Peterson, a district veterinarian with the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, outlined the changes at a presentation March 14 during the the North American Farm and Power Show in Owatonna.

The National Animal Identification System announced its changes earlier this year and the federal government is funding each state to do its own traceability program. The federal government requires some form of identification and documentation when cattle cross state lines. State requirements are generally equal to or greater than federal requirements when moving cattle.

Livestock producers need to know the regulations of the state they are exporting cattle into and the regulations of their home state.


In Minnesota, all breeding cattle must be identified with official identification before the leave the herd of origin, except:

• If they are steers or spayed heifers.

• Beef heifers under 18 months who will be fed for slaughter.

• Bulls less than 10 months who will be fed for slaughter.

Animals must be tagged before they leave the herd except if they are going to slaughter, a sale barn or moving within the same herd.

All rodeo and exhibition cattle need official identification, Peterson said.

Free identification tags are available from the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, while supplies last. The tags are for use on bison and cattle. Cattle regulations apply also to bison, Peterson said.

The acceptable forms of official identification:

• USDA metal tags. The numbers begin with 41, which is Minnesota's number. Iowa's number is 42, Peterson said.

• Bangs tags, which are orange metal ear tags placed in the ears of cattle after they have been vaccinated for brucellosis.

• 840 Radio Frequency Identification tags and non-RFID tags.

• A plastic "41" tag, which is a new alternative to the USDA metal tags.

Cattle producers can not borrow tags from their neighbor if they run out as each tag is associated with their site. Call the board at 651-296-2942 to order tags.


Rule changes also impact pork producers.

Breeding and feeding swine must have official identification, unless:

• They are moved under an approved swine production system health plan. Contact the Minnesota Board of Animal Health to learn the details of an approved swine production system health plan.

• They are moved to another location within the same herd.

• They are swine to be shown in a terminal show. However, if hogs are returning home after a hog show, they must be tagged.

• They are moving from farm of origin to market, swine buying station or slaughter facility.

Feral swine may not be imported into the state under the proposed new rules.

Farmed cervidae

Farmed cervidae require official identification, too. A couple proposed rule changes include that a chronic wasting disease test be done on all animals 12 months or older that die or are slaughtered. It was 16 months of age or older, Peterson said.

Any cervidae movements and deaths must be reported with 14 days. Escapes must be reported within 24 hours to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health.

If an animal is an escapee for more than 24 hours, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources must be notified.

All animals destined for showing at a county fair must be tagged. The board is willing to work with groups, like 4-H, that have several people with only one or two animals each. One person would need to keep track of where the tags go, Peterson said.

Regulations for animals imported from Canada are through the USDA, he said.