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Why Livestock Identification Is Important

Why Livestock Identification Is Important

Livestock farmers from time immemorial have been having challenges identifying their livestock at scale. Many farmers have lost their animals due to their inability to identify and track them. Some also have lost theirs due to them mixing up with cattle from other ranches during grazing in the fields, and that led to them not retrieving them due to the insistence of the owners clinging onto animals which obviously is not theirs and could be avoided if there were a means of identifying them.

Records show that humans have been using individual animal identification methods for more than 3,800 years. Early records show hot iron branding was used as a means of identification of
valuable animals like horses of the Greek, Chinese, and Teutonic Knights. As early as the seventeenth century, identification was important for disease monitoring by means of ink tattoos. Even as far back as the fourteenth century, certificates of origin and safety accompanied animal products during an outbreak of diseases. Animal identification, no matter its medium, can be defined as ‘’the combination and linking of animal identification and registration of an
animal individually, with a unique identifier or collectively by its epidemiological unit or group, with a unique group identifier’’ ( Bowling,2008).

There are many available forms of animal identification for livestock owners. These mediums include hot metal branding, tattoos, paint marks, ear notching etc. Recent methods of identification remain the same with some additional methods; one of the most pressing introductions is the electronic methods, including injectable transponders, ear tags, and internal boluses (Rossing, 1999). These electronic identifications are changing the scope of animal identification in the 21st century. In the Ghanaian market, Anitrack Ltd is the company that is the identification, health and location tracking of livestock.

Hot metal branding
With this method, metals are put on fire till it is red hot. The metal is then stamped on the skin of the animal to replicate the mark on the animal.

Advantages of hot metal branding
It is less costly
It makes it easy identifying ones livestock when they are mixed with different ones.

Disadvantages
Loss of value of the hide
It is permanent
Animal prone to infections
It is an outdated method.

Tattoos
This is a method of animal branding where livestock’s skins are designed by inserting ink, dyes, and pigments, either indelible or temporary.

Advantages
It helps in identifying animals
They are visible to anyone

Disadvantages
It is cruel to animals
It is permanent

Paint marks
Skin of animals is marked with paints of the choice of the owner to distinguish the animal from other animals.
Advantages of paint marking animals
It is less costly
It is easy to do
Helps in identifying animals

Disadvantages
The paint can erase at anytime
Other animals with same paint colour can mix up and they will be difficult identifying.
The method is outdated.

Ear Notching
With this method, knife, scissors and other metallic objects are used to cut the part of the ear to make a shape of choice for the livestock owner. Only the ears are cut out to the shape they want.

Advantages of ear notching
It is less costly
It is easy to notch

Disadvantages
The method is cruel to the animals
It is permanent
When mixed with other animals with similar notching marks can be difficult to identify.
The method is outdated.

Neck collars and rumen bolus by Anitrack Ltd
Neck collars are devices with temperature sensors and GPS locators that are attached to the neck of animals. The attachment is done using belts made up of materials that are appropriate and suitable for the occasion. This device can track the location of the livestock and can also monitor the temperature of the animal at all times and send information to Anitrack’s dashboard for the onward report to the owners for immediate attention.

Rumen bolus, on the other hand, is a substance with temperature sensors and GPS locator that is injected into the rumen of animals. This device can track the location of the livestock and can also monitor the temperature of the animal at all times and send information to Anitrack’s dashboard for the onward report to the owners for immediate attention.

Neck collar on cow rumen bolus in a cow

Advantages of bolus and neck collars
They have sensors that can detect the temperature of livestock at a particular time.
Location of livestock is tracked in real time.
Livestock owners get accurate information on their livestock at all times.
Livestock owners save time by not physically identifying their livestock.
It brings convenience to life stock owners.
Investment of livestock owners are saved as theft and death through undetected diseases are minimized.

Despite the changes in the types and methods of identification, the reasons for livestock identification remain the same.There are other reasons why livestock owners will benefit from identifying their livestock.

These include:

Prevention of theft
The easier your livestock are to identify, the less incentive they are to be stolen. This is of course why stockmen have been branding livestock since the dawn of civilization. With the latest inventions of neck collars and internal boluses, the number of theft has reduced drastically in places they are used.

Traceability
Livestock is easily traced with the location GPS and other traceable devices being worn by the livestock. Other identification methods also help in tracing livestock as the identifiers are
unique to the individual owners and can be identified anywhere.

Disease identification and treatment
Animals with tags are easy to identify with diseases and treatment effected as they are fitted with unique identifiers that will not be difficult to trace as compared to those without tags that look similar.

Official identification in commerce
In countries that have mandatory animal identification laws governing the livestock sector, each individual having livestock is given a particular identification and livestock under their care are easily traced to their farms in official matters, commerce and wandering livestock.

Health status certification
With the current use of tags, boluses and neck collars, health statuses of livestock are tracked. With these devices, livestock health histories are easily traced and healthy ones certified through
This.

Promoting marketability
Certified healthy livestock is more marketable than those that are uncertified. Certified livestock has more market value than the uncertified livestock.
Monitoring animal movement
Livestock with tags, boluses and neck collars are easily monitored through a central system rather than manual means.The movement of animals fitted with these gadgets is easily monitored.

Animal performance recording
Livestock histories are always kept and this will help in keeping track with individual animal’s performance over a period of time. Tags, boluses and neck collars, will always help store the information on a central system which can be retrieved at any time.

Breeding genetic improvement
Health and other records of livestock kept can be used by scientists in improving breeding and genetics of livestock.

Proof of ownership for wandering stock
Wandering/missing stock can easily be traced to the owners as they have unique tags that can be traced back to the owners.

Traceability is the basis of any future system for food safety and epidemiological surveillance for animal diseases. For this reason, there is growing demand for identification of livestock and its products from the point of origin to the point of consumption. The main drivers for this are disease control, trade and food safety. You no longer have to worry about the identification and tracking of your livestock as Anitrack Ltd is here to help solve the problem and take the hustle of physically identifying, tracking and monitoring the health of your livestock.

References:
https://www.oie.int/doc/ged/D682.PDF

Animal Identification

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