ISU Team Studies Cattle Identification System in Canada

Having a national identification system did not protect Canadian cattle from a sole case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) discovered in the spring of 2003, but it did help speed and lend confidence to the investigation. These are the findings of a team of researchers from the Iowa Beef Center who recently visited Ontario and Alberta, Canada, to study the Canadian cattle identification system. A report on the trip has been published by the Midwest Agribusiness Trade Research and Information Center (MATRIC) at Iowa State University and is available online at In Canada's mandatory system, initiated in July 2001, animals are tagged before leaving the farm of origin and the tags are read when the animal is either harvested or exported. The team found that the cost to develop and initiate the system in Canada was relatively low. Producers support the industry-owned, government-enforced program, as evident by the high rate of compliance. Despite a Japanese ban on Canadian beef following discovery of the BSE case, the identification system "has proven to be a valuable tool in the surveillance of BSE and other animal diseases," according to the report. Contact John Lawrence, 515-294-6290, or Sandy Clarke, CARD-ISU communications, 515-294-6257.

(Released October 2003)