Animal Health Australia (AHA) participates in the advisory committees for the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) programs to ensure national consistency in defining, developing, promoting and deploying the various species-based approaches.
NLIS (Cattle) is Australia’s system for permanently identifying and tracking all cattle through their life. It is managed by the Integrity Systems Company, a wholly owned subsidiary company of Meat & Livestock Australia.
Australia’s whole-of-life cattle identification system aims to ensure that individual animals can be traced from property of birth to slaughter to meet biosecurity, food safety, product integrity and market access requirements.
Cattle producers use NLIS-approved machine-readable, radio frequency identification devices (RFIDs) to identify cattle, such as an ear tag or a rumen bolus and ear tag combination.
Each RFID contains a microchip encoded with a unique number that is linked to the property identification code (PIC) of the animal’s property of birth.
Cattle identified with NLIS devices can be electronically scanned as they move through the livestock chain. At scanning, each owner’s PIC can be recorded and linked to the RFID. The transaction information is stored in the secure, central NLIS database.
With full transaction recording is in place, we can establish a life record of an animal’s residency and the other animals it has interacted with. The intention is that this centrally stored, electronic history of an individual animal’s residency will enable rapid and accurate traceability of all cattle in Australia in the event of a disease outbreak or chemical residue incident.
The NLIS database operates in conjunction with the state and territory property registers that record the details of properties assigned with PICs.
NLIS (Pigs) refers to the Australia’s Pork Supply Chain Integrity System, in which traceability is a key feature of the system. It is managed by Australian Pork Limited.
From 1 February 2018, state and territory governments will legislate for mandatory NLIS requirements for the traceability of pigs. This includes identification. All weaned pigs leaving the property will need to be identified with a brand/tattoo or an NLIS approved pig tag.
The pork industry system integrates programs and systems developed by industry supply chain members and governments, and comprises four components:
- PigPass National Vendor Declaration (NVD)—pig producer declares pig husbandry practices and food safety risk management on it when moving pigs; carries property identification code and pig tattoo number to facilitate traceability.
- On-farm Quality Assurance—validates the PigPass NVD and verifies compliance with legislative requirements.
- Linkage of the PigPass NVD with abattoir systems—links the animal and the carcase; abattoir management uploads information to the NLIS (Pigs)/ PigPass database (see PigPass website for details).
- Validation tool (scientific method is currently being researched by the pork industry) – validates the pork supply chain integrity system for rapid resumption of trade in event of a food safety incident.
Pigs listed on the PigPass NVD are physically identified through the use of a slap brand (pig tattoo) that is defined and enforced by state and territory legislation.
For more information on NLIS (Pigs) and traceability visit the Australian Pork Limited website.
NLIS sheep & goats
NLIS (Sheep & Goats) is Australia’s system for permanently identifying and tracking all sheep and goats through their life. It is managed by the Integrity Systems Company, a wholly owned subsidiary company of Meat & Livestock Australia.
Introduced in 2006, the NLIS (Sheep & Goats) replaced a previous scheme for sheep, known as the National Flock Identification Scheme (NFIS).
Initially, sheep born after 1 January 2006 were required to be ear tagged before leaving their property of birth.
From January 2009, all sheep and farmed goats had to be identified with an NLIS-approved ear tag prior to movement. Several Australian states have separate arrangements for the identification of dairy and rangeland goats.
Recording the movement of mobs of sheep or goats between properties on the NLIS database commenced in July 2010.
The NLIS requirements are designed to improve the speed and accuracy of trace-back and trace-forward of sheep and goats.
Ear tags and movement documents
The visually readable ear tag, printed with a property identification code (PIC) and the NLIS logo, stays with the animal for life.
When NLIS ear tags are used in conjunction with a Sheep/Goat National Vendor Declaration (NVD) form or other approved movement document, the NLIS enables trace-back to property of birth or the last property of residence.
Livestock producers must complete a movement document when dispatching sheep or goats of any age to a saleyard, abattoir or another property with a different PIC, and both the vendor and the buyer must keep copies of these forms for 7 years.
Breeder tags are applied on the property of birth before sheep or goats move to another property.
Tags can be colour-coded by year of birth, in a rotating 8-year cycle, to enable visual age identification of animals at a distance. The colour for year of birth is not mandatory, but is strongly recommended.
Post-breeder property tags are applied to sheep or goats no longer on their property of birth, or to introduced animals that have lost their original tag. Post-breeder property tags are always pink.
NLIS South American camelids
Animal Health Australia (AHA) is working with relevant industry stakeholders to develop a national identification and traceability system for all South American camelids (SACs) in Australia.
All camelids of South American origin include alpacas, llamas, guanacos and vicuñas. Australia has a SACs population of around 200-300,000 individual animals.
Towards SACs identification
The Australian alpaca and llama industries have identified that the introduction of a national identification and traceability system is integral to the future development of these industries while they are still relatively small and growing.
In 2008, the NLIS (South American Camelids – SACs) National Consultative Committee (NCC) was formed by AHA, its relevant members (federal and state governments, Meat & Livestock Australia) and representatives from:
- Australian Alpaca Association
- Australasian Alpaca Breeders Association
- Llama Association of Australasia.
The NLIS (SACs) National Consultative Committee is overseeing the development of a national identification and traceability system for South American camelids. Fundamental to their success is a system that is cost effective to industry and developed in consultation with industry.