Cattle owners who are not registered with the National Animal Identification and Traceability System (NAITS) before the end of January 2021 will face restrictions in terms of the movement of their animals.
Chief Veterinary Officer in the Veterinary Services Division (VSD), Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Osbil Watson, gave the warning during a JIS Think Tank on Wednesday (November 4).
“In the first instance, they will not be able to transport those animals along our thoroughfares. So if they plan to have animals transported from their farms to the slaughter plant or to another farm or wherever, it is mandatory, effective January 2021, for them to have those cattle identified or their establishment registered,” he noted.
Dr. Watson is encouraging cattle owners to take advantage of the free registration process at this time.
“This is something that the Government has implemented for the good of the nation in terms of food safety and in terms of animal health. The good thing is that right now, it is at no cost to the farmer… so let us maximise on the use of it to the benefit of the entire nation,” he urged.
NAITS is a mandatory system, established in 2017, to enhance animal disease surveillance and the traceability of animals and products of animal origin. It focuses on safeguarding animal health and addressing food safety issues in support of the development of a modern livestock sector aligned with international standards.
More than 39,000 of the estimated 90,000 heads of cattle on the island were registered under the programme up to the end of October 2020.
More than 1,200 establishments have also been registered since the inception of the NAITS.
Meanwhile, Senior Veterinary Officer at the VSD, Dr. Ikolyn Ricketts, said that NAITS is looking to complete its first identification exercise as soon as possible, hence the Ministry’s thrust in setting the January 2021 deadline for registration.
“This is really to boost us getting that off the ground, so that we can move from first identification to a more regulatory base where we can now monitor the newborns,” Dr. Ricketts said. She said the ultimate goal is to track the movement of meat not just from the farm to the slaughterhouse but also to the homes of consumers.
“We are hoping for 100 per cent compliance, but we know that with all systems you may not get 100 per cent. In terms of attrition or loss rates of the tags, we are hoping for less than 10 per cent, which we have been keeping up so far,” she noted.
The NAITS incorporates information on animal identity, ownership, geographical location and movement activity. All information gathered is stored electronically (in a database) under the control of the Veterinary Services Division.
Visual ear tags are affixed to the animal and a movement document referred to as the Cattle Passport, containing the same identification number as that on the ear tags, is issued to the owner and must accompany the animal when moved from one establishment to another.