EID scanners can gather information quickly on animals as they are processed. Photo Credit: Nick Simmons, UF/IFAS Extension Escambia County

Over the next several years, federal animal identification rules regarding traceability will undergo a multi-year transition to solely Electronic-Identification Tags (EID). Animal disease tracebility is at the forefront of providing a safe, wholesome beef supply and aids animal health officials locate diseased and at-risk animals quickly and efficiently. The United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working to strengthen its animal traceability system to protect citizens and the livestock industry.

Beginning January 1, 2023, all cattle and bison that are required to have official identification under current regulations will be required to have official radio frequency identification (RFID) ear tags. The tags will be required before the animal moves off the farm into interstate commerce. Tag technology can be low or ultrahigh frequency—whichever the State, producer or industry sector prefers. Tags must be approved by USDA to meet standards for quality and performance, be tamper proof, contain a unique ID, and display the U.S. official ear tag shield. Tags can be part of a matched set with visual identification. RFID tags will be available to replace the orange, metal brucellosis tags. This does not include feeder cattle. Under the current regulations feeder cattle as well as other cattle and bison that move directly to slaughter are not required to have individual identification.

Animals that will be required to have official RFID tags will include: (no change from previous ruling)

Beef Cattle & Bison:

  • sexually intact and 18 months or older
  • used for rodeo or recreational events (regardless of age)
  • used for shows or exhibition

Dairy Cattle:

  • all female dairy cattle
  • all male dairy cattle born after March 11, 2013

Producers will still be required to obtain a Premise Identification Number (PIN) to purchase official ID tags. PIN’s can be obtained through FDACS Animal Industry Division.

Implementation Timeline:

December 31, 2019
USDA will discontinue providing free metal tags. However, approved vendors will still be permitted to produce official metal tags for one additional year. Approved vendor tags will be available for purchase on a State-by-State basis, as authorized by the animal health official in each state  through December 31, 2020.

January 1, 2021
USDA will no longer approve vendor production of metal ear tags with the official USDA shield. Accredited veterinarians and/or producers will no longer apply metal ear tags for official identification, and must start using only Official RFID tags.

January 1, 2023
RFID ear tags will be required for beef and dairy cattle and bison moving interstate that meet the above requirements. Animals previously tagged with metal ear tags will have to be re-tagged with RFID ear tags in order to move interstate. Feeder cattle and animals moving directly to slaughter are not subject to RFID requirements.

For more information:

FDACS Animal Industry Division, interstate animal movement policies

USDA/APHIS animal movement policies