National cattle ID program underway

The National Cattle ID program started Jan. 1 to help further secure Canadian export markets both in finished beef and breeding stock.
A national program will allow the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to trace back reportable diseases if any show up in our livestock. This is a must to keep Canadian cattle maintaining their great reputation for high health.
The main question being raised is how to implement it into your own herd. To date, 12 different tags from four manufacturers in three colours have been approved.
A large area on most tags will be blank, allowing producers to print on their own identification.
The nine-digit number will not have to be recorded by cow-calf operators. The tag retailer will simply forward a list to the identification agency, detailing which sequence of tags were purchased and all relevant information.
For those who don’t already tag, now is a great time to start. The benefits of tagging are numerous. Producers often match cow-calf pairs this way.
Performance records of calving dates, weaning weights, and culling information are only relevant if trace back to the dam and sire are possible.
There is no better time to tag than at birth when preventative shots are given. Processing time in the spring or fall at weaning would be other convenient times to apply the tags.
Make sure to tag mid-ear between the cartilages, allowing the tag to hang down below the hairline so visibility is not hampered.
Several numbering systems have been successful over the years. For permanent numbers, most producers follow the purebred industry as uniformity is beneficial.
They use the number followed by the year letter (K for 2000 and L for 2001). Only four letters (I, O, Q, V) are not used.
The lettering system allows a quick glance to determine the age of your cow in years–necessary for culling or breeding decisions.
Even though all producers should ear tag for their own benefit, some will not. After the tagging date of Jan. 1, tagging facilities will be established.
Producers unable, or in rare cases unwilling, to tag their cattle will have them tagged by these facilities. Most often, this will be at auction markets, buying stations, or in some cases feedlots.
The entire industry will benefit in the end, including you. By initiating the tagging system in your herd early, you can choose the system most compatible to your operation.
The national ID system can be made totally compatible with your current system. Compliance, if initiated early, should be painless and economical.