Lifetime animal traceability starts at the farmgate

Date 25 October 2018

Nick Brown is a sheep and beef farmer who rears Friesian bulls and winters dairy heifers with wife Sophie on a 530ha hill country property.  

 Making sure all livestock coming on and off farm are NAIT tagged and registered online is every farmers’ responsibility says Taranaki farmer Nick Brown.

 Lifetime animal traceability starts at the farmgate. That means all cattle [and deer] should be tagged within six months of birth or before they move off-farm - whichever comes first. 

 Once the animals are tagged, they must be registered in NAIT within seven days.

 “I can’t understand why some farmers are still not doing this, they must be simply lazy or ignorant, says Mr Brown.

 “We had a situation recently where we had heifers coming on-farm which weren’t tagged, we’ve also encountered this with calves too. It just shouldn’t be this way, especially after the M.Bovis outbreak and all the publicity.

 “If you have this happen, pull up those farmers up who are doing this. As a buyer, you have a responsibility as much as the seller to be stringent.

 “You have to consider the implications for our agriculture exports, without lifetime traceability we are risking our product integrity and reputation for food safety in what is becoming a globally competitive marketplace,” he said.

 As a Young Farmer, Mr Brown believes most of his generation are equipped and savvy enough to do their NAIT requirements with the recording of movements between farms not requiring a great deal of nous.

 Technology is not a barrier and farmers should be using it more to their advantage.

 “I get that some of the older farmers might struggle with the computer, but that’s not really an excuse. You can call on NAIT accredited information providers or assign a delegate and they can help with tagging, registering and making sure your NAIT account is kept up to date.

 “If you don’t have a wand [livestock scanner], find someone who has and see if they are willing to share it. After-all it’s something you use periodically, otherwise make the investment and the benefits will come.

 “We use a Tru-test scanner and that counts the number of cattle as you scan. It is a clever tool as it ensures you don’t scan the same animal twice. You can link it to your smartphone and do the transfers on the spot without leaving the paddock,” says Mr Brown.

 Once animals are tagged and registered any future movements must be recorded and confirmed in NAIT within 48 hours of the movement occurring, with an accompanying Animal Status Declaration (ASD) form.

 Farmers, livestock reps and the wider industry “should care a bit more” says Mr Brown when it comes to their NAIT obligations.

 “It really is critical to be privy to the information being recorded. The current situation [M. bovis] is bad and could be a lot worse even. Providing these details builds our resilience against a livestock disease response and our capability to manage it.

 “It’s time farmers seen value in the NAIT system and start using the data to their advantage, to improve their farm, productivity and of course, their defence against a biosecurity incursion.”

 For more information on tagging and registering livestock, click here

Nick Brown OSPRI website2

Taranaki sheep & beef farmer Nick Brown

subscribe to ospri news