DOAG: Animal Disease Traceability Rule Information for Connecticut Producers

This article appeared in the February 7, 2014 edition of the Ag Report.

Animal Disease Traceability Rule Information for Connecticut Producers

Bureau of Regulation and Inspection



As of March 2013, USDA finalized the Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) rule to facilitate the process of tracing animals that may be involved in disease outbreaks.  The ADT rule regulates identification methods, interstate movement, and record keeping for cattle, bison, swine, goats, sheep, horses, and poultry. 


Animal disease traceability—or knowing where diseased and at-risk animals are, where they’ve been, and when—is very important to ensuring a rapid response when animal disease events take place.  Reducing the number of animal owners impacted by an animal disease event reduces the economic impact on all Connecticut owners and the entire US animal industry. 


There are three important basic provisions of the ADT rule that apply to all livestock moving interstate:

  • All livestock must have official identification.
  • All livestock must be accompanied by either (1) a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI), also known as a health certificate, or (2) an Owner-Shipper Statement (OSS) for animals going directly to slaughter or to a federally approved slaughter market. 
  • Animal and animal movement records must be retained and be available for inspection by state or federal animal health officials. 

Provisions of the ADT rule will be monitored and enforced by both USDA and the states.  States and exhibitions are allowed and may have additional entry requirements for animals beyond what is required by the ADT rule.


There are advantages to producers officially identifying their animals and keeping records of their animals moving off the farm:

  •      It ensures that the ownership of their animals will not be confused with others either by the transporter or at a livestock market.  This will minimize the risk of a producer being paid for an animal owned by someone else, which could be of lesser value.
  •      It provides producers with additional sales options, potentially resulting in a higher sales price.  Officially identified animals can be sold and moved from more than one livestock market prior to going to a slaughter facility. 
  •      It ensures the correct ownership of animals moving through the market chain to slaughter facilities, minimizing the risk of a producer being wrongly held responsible for incidents of either drug residue violations or disease conditions involving animals he did not own.  

Accepted types of Official Identification

Official identification is defined as set of identifying characters that is uniquely associated to the state of origin and individual animal, is searchable, and is accepted by USDA and the state of destination.  The two most common types of official identification for cattle and swine are as follows:

  •      The National Uniform Ear tagging System (NUES), commonly referred to as “metal” or “bright tags,” has been the standard in disease-control programs for many years.  For cattle, these tags have an alphanumeric numbering system (nine characters) and are imprinted with the US shield on the back.  The first two numbers or letters are the state code and the following three letters and four numbers are uniquely associated with the individual animal.  (Example:  16 AAA 1234 in which “16” indicates Connecticut).  NUES metal tags for swine differ from those for cattle in that alphanumeric numbering system consists of only eight characters—one less letter after the postal code or abbreviation—followed by the four numbers.  (Example:  16 AA 1234 in which “16” indicates Connecticut)
  •      Animal Identification Number (AIN) – referred to as “840” tags, are 15 digits in length with the first three being the country code (840 = USA.) and include a Location Identifier Number (LIN), formerly Premise Identifier Number (PIN), in conjunction with an individual animal number.

With sheep and goats, USDA has approved several methods of identification.  They are premises (location) based and producer applied.  Producers can use official USDA ear tags or approved breed registry tattoos (plus registration papers) for official identification.  Ear tags, tattoos or microchips used by producers on the Voluntary Scrapie Flock Certification Program are also acceptable.  Whichever method is used, identification records must be maintained by the producers for five years.  


Connecticut accredited veterinarians working with sheep and goats also have USDA tags assigned to them to use in small hobby flocks or herds that do not have a premises identification number, approved breed registry tattoos (plus registration papers), or other acceptable identification, and require official identification for health certificates and/or interstate movement.  The producer should make his veterinarian aware prior to the farm visit that his animals will need official USDA tags for sheep and goats, so that the veterinarian will have the correct ear tags on hand. Connecticut sheep and goats moving interstate, intrastate, and to any shows/exhibitions are required to be officially identified.  All sheep, lambs, goats and kids within the state require official identification to move off the farm.  


Other types of official identification, though less common, include:

  •      Breed association registration numbers.
  •      Registration freeze brands.
  •      Types of identification currently used that are not accepted as official identification:
  •      Breed tattoos are not considered official identification and can no longer be used on CVI’s unless the tattoo is unique to an individual animal and is searchable.
  •      Back tags are not considered official identification and are only allowable as means of identification for livestock moving interstate directly to a recognized slaughter plant, or to only one federally approved market at which they must be sold directly to slaughter.  Animals identified with back tags can only be moved if accompanied by an Owner Shipper Statement (OSS).

The ADT Rule and Movement of Animals

1.      The majority of the requirements in the rule affect cattle, although movement documents apply to all species. The entire rule and requirements can be found on USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) website at


2.      It is important to verify entry requirements of the destination state before moving livestock, equines, or poultry. 

  • A Certificate of Veterinary Inspection is required for any animal moving interstate for purposes other than slaughter.
  • Animals being moved for slaughter purposes can be moved on an Owner Shipper Statement (OSS).

3.      Official ear tag numbers must be read and recorded in their entirety by the shipper at the time of pick-up and prior to comingling on the CVI or Owner-Shipper Statement.  (It is highly recommended that producers maintain a record of the official identification of animals moved off the farm for subsequent proof of ownership if a question should arise). 


Availability of Official Animal Identification and Forms for Producers 

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture is authorized to and will provide at no cost metal ear tags compliant with NUES and two styles of “840” tag devices—visual hang tags and button tags that include RFID capabilities—to cattle and swine producers.  

Producers may also purchase custom ear tags online or direct from manufactures, providing they have been issued a Location Identifier Number (LIN) by the Department of Agriculture.


The Department of Agriculture also will provide OSS forms to both Connecticut producers and licensed livestock dealers that are to be completed at the time the animals are loaded at the farm if the animals are not accompanied by a CVI. 


The OSS forms are carbonless and in triplicate in order for the producer, licensed dealer/hauler, and the market and/or other destination to each retain a copy of the completed form.  A printable copy of the OSS will soon be available on the Department of Agriculture’s website.


Cattle and swine producers wishing to obtain NUES tags or “840” devices, a Location Identifier Number application, or OSS forms can contact Elizabeth Hall at 860-713-2560 or 


USDA is providing plastic or metal ear tags in lots of 20 or 100 with an applicator at no charge ,and the option to order custom tags from an approved manufacturer at the owner’s expense. 


Connecticut producers can obtain their flock identification numbers and order their free tags and applicators through the office of State Veterinarian by phone, 860-713-2505, or by written application returned by mail or fax, 860-713-2548. 


Tags will be shipped directly to the producer from the manufacturer and will take three to four weeks to arrive.