SHERIDAN — In an effort to help area ranchers better understand a new federal mandate regarding the interstate transfer of cattle, a local veterinary hospital announced this week it will host a free seminar at the county fairgrounds next week.
“Everybody needs to understand this, because there’s a lot of frustration when these kinds of things happen,” said Tammy Gorzalka, office manager at Moxey Schreiber Veterinary Hospital.
A new traceability rule from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service went into effect across the country earlier this week. The move is meant to allow for individual cattle to be traced back to their place of origin.
Gorzalka said conversations regarding a proposed rule began in earnest several years ago following the nationwide scare surrounding Mad Cow Disease.
Under the new rule, livestock moved interstate must be officially identified and accompanied by an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection or other documentation, such as owner-shipper statements or brand certificates.
Gorzalka said that while the initiative may add an extra level of quality control to the beef production chain, the process of shipping cattle will now take longer to complete.
The final rule differs in certain regards from the first draft proposed in 2011. Following a public comment period, several changes were made to the rule.
• The use of brands, tattoos and brand registration are now accepted as official identification when accepted by the shipping and receiving states or tribes.
• The rule permanently maintains the use of backtags as an alternative to official eartags for cattle and bison moved directly to slaughter.
• The rule now allows for accepting movement documentation other than an Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection for all ages and classes of cattle when accepted by the shipping and receiving states or tribes.
• It clarifies that all livestock moved interstate to a custom slaughter facility are exempt from the regulations.
• The rule exempts chicks moved interstate from a hatchery from the official identification requirements.
• Beef cattle under the age of 18 months are exempt from the official identification requirement in the rule, unless they are moved interstate for shows, exhibitions, rodeos or recreational events. Their specific traceability requirements are set to be addressed in a separate rule.
A media release on the USDA’s website claims animal traceability is an important step in ensuring rapid response when animal disease events take place. The agency states that an efficient and accurate system helps reduce the number of animals involved in an investigation, reduces the time needed to respond and decreases the costs to both producers and the government.
Next Tuesday’s seminar will also feature presentations from Randy Shirbroun at Newport Laboratories, who will speak about how immunology relates to nutrition and pink eye in cattle, and nutritionist Rachel Endicott from Montana State University who will cover bovine nutrition.
A free dinner will be provided to attendees who RSVP to the hospital at 672-5533 by March 15, but others are still welcome to attend.
The March 19 presentation will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Sheridan County Fairgrounds exhibit hall.