Dairy Bull Calf Permanent Identification

Do you sell dairy bull calves at a Pennsylvania livestock market? Do these calves leave your farm with official identification? If not, there’s a risk of losing the opportunity to sell to major bob veal calf buyers in Pennsylvania. Why, you may ask? When calves arrive at a livestock market without official identification, the only way to trace these animals to the farm of origin is through the glued-on back tags. When the animals are to be slaughtered within 3 days of purchase, this is an acceptable method of identification, but these young calves bring a new challenge into the picture. During the truck ride, they will suck on the back tags, often pulling them off the other calves. This means that when the calves arrive at the slaughter facility some of them will be without official identification. These calves are considered unfit for human consumption and are condemned, resulting in a major loss for the buyer. In order to prevent this problem and to have continued access to major bob veal buyers, it is critical for Pennsylvania dairy bull calf sellers to assure their calves have official ID before leaving the farm.

The United States Department of Agriculture has developed an Animal Disease Traceability Program. Many states are making it a requirement that all cattle entering the state must have an official tag. If you are selling any animals to the livestock market you should tag the animal prior to leaving your facility.

Which cattle require official ear tags?

Dairy breed cattle (cows, bulls, steers, and calves)

Beef breed cattle older than 18 months

Cattle of any age used for rodeos, shows and exhibitions

You may obtain official tags from your veterinarian or your state Department of Agriculture regional office. An official tag MUST have the US shield symbol. This symbol is shown below:

Department of Agriculture Region 5 veterinarian Dr. Elizabeth Santini stated that it would be in the best interest to tag all calves including BULL CALVES leaving the farm with either a metal tag or an RFID tag. Be sure that the tag has the US shield. This not only protects your buyers, but it protects you too. You do not want to be responsible for any animal that is not originating from your dairy. Making the switch to tagging all calves leaving your farm doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Though RFID tags do come with a cost, official metal tags can be obtained free of cost from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture as long as you have Premises Identification number. To order tags, farmers can contact Allie Steck, ADT Coordinator for PDA BAHDS, at 717-678-3508 or asteck@pa.gov. Remember your farm MUST have a premises identification to be able to receive these free tags.

No Premises Identification Number?

Every livestock facility in Pennsylvania needs to have a Premises Identification. This was put into effect in 2013. To obtain identification for your farm you will have to register with the Department of Agriculture,  On this page click on the online services tab on the menu and select Premises Registration from the list for the registration form. If you have questions regarding this identification, please contact Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture or Greg Strait at 717-325-4870.


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