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Animal Disease Traceability

Animal disease traceability or knowing where diseased and at-risk animals are, where they’ve been, and when is important to ensuring a rapid response when animal disease events take place. Although animal disease traceability does not prevent disease, an efficient and accurate traceability system reduces the number of animals and response time involved in a disease investigation; which, in turn, reduces the economic impact on owners and affected communities.

The current approach to traceability in the United States is the result of significant discussion and compromise. Federal policy regarding traceability has been amended several times over the past decade based on stakeholder feedback, particularly from the cattle industry. In early 2010, USDA announced a new approach for responding to and controlling animal diseases, referred to as the ADT framework. Key principles of the 2010 framework include:

  • Interstate animal movement.
  • Administration by the States and Tribal Nations to increase flexibility.
  • Encouraging the use of lower cost technology.
  • Transparency through the full Federal rulemaking process.

USDA published a proposed rule, “Traceability for Livestock Moving Interstate,” on August 11, 2011, and the final rule on January 9, 2013. Under the final rule, unless specifically exempted, livestock moved interstate must be officially identified and accompanied by an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection (ICVI) or other documentation. Covered livestock include cattle and bison, horses and other equine species, poultry, sheep and goats, swine, and captive cervids. The requirements do not apply to livestock moving:

  • Entirely within Tribal land, that straddles a State line and where the Tribe has a separate traceability system from the States where their land is located.
  • To a custom slaughter facility in accordance with Federal and State regulations for meat preparation. 

Beef cattle under 18 months of age, unless they are moved interstate for shows, exhibitions, rodeos, or recreational events, are exempt from the official identification requirement in this rule.  Specific traceability requirements for this group will be addressed in separate rulemaking, allowing APHIS to work closely with industry to ensure the effective implementation of the identification requirements.

Thank you for your interest in Animal Disease Traceability. If you would like more information on the Animal Disease Traceability Program, please email us at Additionally, you are encouraged to contact your State AnimalHealth Official for more information pertaining to your State’s traceability activities and requirements.

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