Lessons Learned from the Canadian Cattle Industry: National Animal Identification and The Mad Cow

John D. Lawrence, Daryl Strohbehn, Daniel D. Loy, Reginald J. Clause
October 2003  [03-MRP 7]

Canada implemented a national cattle identification system, led and developed by the industry. Initially a voluntary program beginning in July 2001, it became mandatory in July 2002 and achieved 92-95 percent compliance by that fall. The costs to develop and initiate the system were low; animals are tagged before leaving the farm of origin and the tags are read when the animal dies or is exported. The national identification system did not protect Canadian cattle from a sole case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or Mad Cow Disease, found in the spring of 2003, but it did help speed and lend confidence to the investigation. While the identification system was the objective of the study, the team also reports on how markets and an industry behave in a crisis.

Keywords: animal identification, BSE, traceability.

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