Animal Identification


Animal identification and animal disease traceability systems are hot topics in the livestock community today.

In recent years, USDA has indicated repeatedly that they want real time animal tracking/traceability to occur for cattle, sheep, pigs, and goats. To this end, the following sentence appears on the USDA Sheep and Goat identification website: “APHIS is working with sheep and goat organizations to develop a plan for transitioning toward electronic identification to improve our nation’s ability to quickly trace exposed and diseased animals in the event of an outbreak.”

Concerned that absent a plan developed by the sheep and goat industry the USDA will at some future time impose a plan of their own, the sheep industry has begun to consider how best to accommodate a transition toward electronic identification.

In 2020, the ASI’s Animal Health Committee agreed that a small working group should be convened for the purpose of developing a blueprint for the transition away from visual ID tags to EID tags. This EID transition working group consists of diverse and knowledgeable industry representatives and subject matter experts. The group is led by ASI Animal Health Committee Chairs, Dr. Cindy Wolf and Dr. Jim Logan.

A report from the EID Working Group is expected in early 2022.

Sheep Identification & Animal Disease Traceability Systems Survey

In 2021, ASI conducted an online survey of more than 500 sheep producers to gather information from producers on these topics. The information requested in the survey provides participants and the sheep industry with valuable information regarding industry animal ID practices and perceptions regarding a national animal disease traceability system.

Click here for the results of Sheep Identification & Animal Disease Traceability Systems survey. Click here for a summary article published in the July 2021 Sheep Industry News.

For information on USDA official identification for Sheep click here.

Historical Efforts

In 2004, Dr. Cindy Wolf, vice-chair of the ASI Animal Health Committee and a Minnesota producer, guided an assembly of industry leaders through the steps in the development of a species-specific animal identification plan. Industry leaders from around the country participated in the discussions including lamb feeders, range and farm operators, sheep specialists, and sale-barn and affiliated industry businesses.

The goal of this group was to develop a well-defined implementation phase-in plan for sheep identification that is consistent with the established standards and goals of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).

The Sheep Identification Working Group documents are available below. Click on the item below to access.