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Livestock and Poultry Identification

Livestock and Poultry Identification Purpose

Animal disease traceability, or knowing where diseased and at-risk animals are, where they've been, and when, is very important to ensure a rapid response when animal disease events take place. An efficient and accurate animal disease traceability system helps reduce the number of animals involved in an investigation, reduces the time needed to respond, and decreases the cost to producers and the government. 

By quickly containing contagious disease outbreaks, Animal Health Section veterinarians and specialists help to minimize disease-associated economic loss and protect the business continuity of Vermont's animal agriculture businesses.

Vermont Livestock Identification Law

State law requires all livestock transported within the State to be officially identified prior to leaving the property of origin, regardless of the reason for movement or duration of absence from the property. Livestock include dairy and beef cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and camelids. Examples of livestock movement within Vermont that this requirement applies to include transport to a slaughter facility, movement to a new farm location, and transport to a fair or exhibit. By having an official ear tag applied in your animal, there is a greater likelihood that your animal’s traceability is maintained during transport, marketing and slaughter. Additionally, applying official ID to your livestock before they leave your farm ensures that drug residues are not erroneously attributed to you and that the authenticity of any marketing claims you are making can be readily verified. Livestock transported out of Vermont also must be officially identified. Please note that backtags are NOT considered official identification and can’t be used for intra- and interstate movement. There is ongoing discussion at the federal level that only scannable electronic (RFID) ear tags may be allowed to be used as official ID in the future. 

Types of Tags and How to Get Them

Official identification is required for intra-and interstate movement of livestock and poultry. Metal ear tags (NUES tags) and 840 radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags are commonly used in Vermont by livestock owners to meet these requirements. For many years, VAAFM has provided metal NUES tags at no charge to farmers and veterinarians. The Agency is pleased to announce that radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags are now available to Vermont farmers and veterinarians at no charge for use in cattle. The annual number of free RFID tags farmers may receive is dependent on farm size. Small farm operations may acquire up to 100 RFID tags; medium farm operations up to 200; and large farm operations may acquire up to 400 tags annually.  Please call the Animal Health Section at (802) 828-2421 or email your request to to request metal or RFID tags.

Please review the educational handout illlustrating official livestock tags

See how one farm has used RFID technology to track cattle.