Louisiana animal health officials have implemented a new state of the art traceability system June 4 for livestock that will allow animal health officials to identify a single animal if foreign animal disease or terrorist attack threatens a state herd.

“The Office of Animal Health and Food Safety is beefing up the capability of the highly successful Livestock Brand Commission to build a foundation to trace livestock as animals move through the food chain,” said Commissioner Mike Strain. “The system protects and supports the Louisiana producer in the case of disease outbreak and creates a quick reference log to track stolen or lost animals. The information collected will be managed separately from any federal system”

Strain said the electronic livestock check-in system was tested at Dominique’s Auction Stockyard in Baton Rouge.

“The United States Department of Agriculture has mandated that all states create a program to trace any animal entering interstate commerce,” Strain said. “Our program collects the animal’s identification, including metal eartag number, electronic eartag number, backtag, brand and other identifying information at the receiving dock of the stockyard.

Strain said the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) is using software and hardware from Fort Supply Technologies, a Utah and Wyoming-based company.

“Funding for the program came from a grant from Homeland Security,” Strain said. “Homeland Security understands that the protection of our American food supply is vital.”

Strain said when livestock are dropped off at the auction, the brand or health inspector uses an industrial hand-held computer to record the eartags, backtag, brand, sex, breed, color and owner information directly into the device and uploads the information to the official’s laptop computer.

A metal or electronic eartag may be placed on the animal and that number is also recorded.

The collected information is managed solely by the LDAF. From this database, key information can be immediately researched on animals by any authorized state user from any computer through a secure log-in to the LDAF database, said John Walther, assistant commissioner of Animal Health and Food Safety.

“A state authorized user could look up information on any animal that might have been reported sick, missing or stolen,” Walther said. “With this system, a potential problem could be resolved quickly. It also will minimize impact on a farm or ranch, their neighbors and livestock owners in any particular area in the event of a disease outbreak or contamination.”

The state’s new livestock tracking system also ties into an electronic certificate of veterinary inspection program (eCVI) called Vet-Sentry that will allow private veterinarians to produce an electronic health certificate to better facilitate interstate movement of livestock.

For more information, call the Animal Health office at (225) 925-3962 or email animalhealth@ldaf.state.la.us.