Making Moves On Cattle Passports

UK - Keeping up with the paperwork can be a significant challenge for farmers these days but even the most methodical can become overwhelmed by events on a busy farm. In 2008, nearly 9000 cattle proved to be incorrectly identified on 50 per cent of the holdings inspected by the Rural Payments Agency. But embracing new technologies is helping many farmers to solve those problems.
calendar icon 11 February 2011
clock icon 2 minute read

With around one million individual cattle movements currently reported to the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) every month, it is vitally important that all stock are correctly identified by their own passports. Cattle without passports cannot be sold or moved between holdings, so they have very little commercial value other than as breeding animals on their home farm.

Every month there are around 200,000 new applications for cattle passports. Reporting a calf birth before 27 days of age is necessary for a passport to be issued and many farmers have taken advantage of easy to access on-line reporting systems, with nearly 78 per cent of all applications now being reported electronically.

For those that miss the deadline, there is yet another technology that could provide a solution. A post 27 day-old animal can become eligible for a passport by confirming parentage using DNA-based tests. Just ten years ago, DNA-based cattle identification and parentage testing would easily have taken several months but now it’s possible to have the results much more quickly.

All too often, plans are already in place to move cattle when the absence of a passport is identified and that means farmers often have to act quickly to remedy the situation. There is a step-by-step, straightforward process for farmers who need to follow this route: Contact BCMS with details of the animal’s dam. On confirming that the dam is still alive, BCMS will issue an application form for DNA tests on both the dam and her calf.

Request a visit from your vet to take blood samples from the dam and calf. Vets can request a free BCMS test kit from Pfizer Animal Genetics, if they don’t already hold one in stock.

Blood samples, forms and cheques for lab fees are returned in the postage paid envelope supplied.

The results come from a BCMS-approved laboratory in the UK and the technology means there is a fast turnaround of just two to three weeks to receive the results.

As every livestock keeper knows, keeping an animal on the farm for longer than needed when there is an opportunity to sell at premium prices, can adversely affect profitability. While technology may be able to provide the answers to identification dilemmas, farmers are still being advised that as the New Year starts, they should check that they hold up to date passports for those animals that they anticipate they will want to move off the holding in the future.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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