National Animal Identification and Tracing Scheme NAIT

Pebbles outlines the scheme to Freddy.

As Farmer Freddy sits down to enjoy a relaxing cup of tea with his daughter, Pebbles, he remembers something he read in a farming magazine the previous day.

“Pebbles,” says Freddy as he slowly sips his tea, “What can you tell me about this new tagging system they’re introducing for cattle and deer?”

“What do you already know about it?” asks Pebbles.

“Well,” replies Freddy, “I’ve heard that all cattle and deer will soon have to be electronically tagged.”

“That’s right,” replies Pebbles. “The new system, known as the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) scheme, will require all cattle and deer nationwide to be tagged with radio frequency identification ear tags to create an electronic database which will track cattle from birth, through farms, saleyards and to processors.”

“But what’s the point of that?” asks Freddy, “All of my cows already have Animal Health Board approved ear tags.”

“Well,” replies Pebbles, “It will replace your untidy paper records so that in the event of a biosecurity outbreak it will be easier to track and encircle the affected areas, allowing the rest of the country to continue farming with minimal interruption. In the long term, it is also meant to reduce animal identification costs.”

“The NAIT scheme comes into effect on 1 July 2012 for cattle, and 1 March 2013 for deer,” continues Pebbles. “This means that all of your newborn calves will need to be tagged with the new tags within 180 days of birth, or before their first off-farm movement. You will have a 3 year grace period to tag your existing stock, unless they are being moved off-farm. There are of course exceptions, such as the one for calves which are less than 30 days old and are being moved directly to a meat processor. Those calves will only require a meat processor’s ‘direct-to-slaughter’ tag.”

“That’s a lot of information to take in, Pebbles,” comments Freddy. “Does this mean I’ll have to remove the old tags from my existing stock?”

“No,” replies Pebbles, “There is no need to remove the old tags. In fact, it has been suggested that you may even like to keep using other visual tags as well as the new ones - for management reasons.”

“I might just do that,” says Freddy. “What else do I need to know about the NAIT scheme?”

“I can’t do all of the work for you, Dad!” replies Pebbles, “You need to jump online and read through the information on the NAIT website. It’s important that you understand what you need to do ahead of time.”

“That’s not a bad idea, Pebbles,” says Freddy, “I think I’ll do that right after this next cup of tea.”


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