Western Provinces Begin Establishment of the National Hog ID and Traceability Framework

CANADA - Farm-Scape: Episode 2046. Farm-Scape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork.
calendar icon 30 January 2006
clock icon 6 minute read

Farm-Scape, Episode 2046

The organizations that represent pork producers in the three prairie provinces have begun the process that will ultimately lead to the creation of a national identification and traceability system for swine.

Full Traceability Expected by 2008

The Canadian pork industry is targeting 2008 as the date by which it intends to have full identification and traceability as a line of defense against the economic effects of a foreign animal disease outbreak. The system being proposed by the National Hog Identification and Traceability Working Group, a committee assembled by the Canadian Pork Council, consists of four main elements, which are being phased in over time.

The elements include registering and issuing premise identification numbers to every swine operation in Canada, the implementation of a new national tattoo structure, the creation of a western slaughter database to track animals from the farm to the slaughter plant and the creation of an electronic database to track animals from farm to farm.

Stage 1 Moving into Full Swing

“The first stage of the process is to register all producers, to bring data inventories up to date, and to issue new tattoo numbers,“ says Manitoba Pork Council emergency preparedness and technical affairs specialist Jeff Clark.

Manitoba Pork Council is scheduled to mail registration packages to its producers by the middle of next month. A similar package went to producers in Saskatchewan last week and Alberta Pork started collecting producer registration information last fall during regional meetings.

Producer Information to Serve Multiple Purposes

“There are three basic types of information we’re collecting,“ says Alberta Pork Assistant General Manager Paul Hodgman. “The registration for our producers is important not only for ID and traceability as we go down that pathway but also for the operations of our organization.“

“The three main components are contact information. One of the things we need to know, who are the principle contacts at each operation in the province and that goes right down to various barn levels. In case there's an emergency, you need to know who to talk to on the ground. The next part is the premise registration. If you’re going to control disease and you’re going to have proper ID and traceability you must have knowledge of where all the premise are. Getting that premise registry, coordinates, land title, where the land is located and so on, is very important.“

Information Being Collected Intended to Speed Response to Animal Disease

“As Saskatchewan’s part of phase one we sent out the premise ID and registration guide and also the forms for all the producers in Saskatchewan that we currently know of that produced pigs in 2005,“ explains Sask Pork producer services manager Harvey Wagner. “That went out on Thursday [January 19]. They’re out on farms right now and we know they’re on farms. Some farms have actually returned the guide already.“

“The idea is to get as much information as possible on each farm so that, in the case of a foreign animal disease, that we’ll know where the farm is, who’s involved in shipping pigs to and from that farm and what kind of other animals there are on that farm. We’ll know if there’s chickens and beef cattle on that farm. It’s helpful for CFIA to know, going in, that they’re going to have to deal with cattle as well so they can get their process going in that regard as well.“

New National Tattoo Structure a Key Component

In addition to registering all premises, each provincial pork council will also assign new tattoo numbers. “What we’re doing in the hog industry,“ Clark explains, “is to make use of an existing system, the market tattoo system, where producers will apply a shoulder slap tattoo to all animals going to the processing plants.“

“The problem is there’s duplication in that system so we’re going to reallocate the numbers so numbers will be unique and specific to a given premise.“

Hodgman adds, “We will be issuing new tattoos to producers and these tattoos will be attached to the premise which is a change from being attached to the producer which is at present.“

Wagner continues, “The idea is to have a unique tattoo for each farm. They’ll be assigned randomly and we’ll be able to make sure that there’s no duplicates anywhere in Canada with the tattoo system. The whole concept is to make sure that each tattoo that comes into the packing plant can be immediately and clearly traced back to a particular farm so that we know what happened and where those animals came from.“

Registration Already Well Underway

Hodgman estimates between a third and half of Alberta producers have already provided their information as a result of the meetings last fall. He says, “We’re going to be collecting the rest, putting a push on it in the next couple of months to get that collected.“ Wagner would like to see all of the producer guides returned to the Sask Pork office by the middle of February.
Clark expects Manitoba Pork Council to be sending out information kits, including summaries of data already in the system, in the first or second week of February to give producers a sense of what is already known about them the kind of information that will be collected. He says, “Beyond that, moving into probably the second or third week of March, we’ll be issuing another notice to producers that we’ll be doing rounds of phone calls to actually register their operations, to issue their tattoo numbers and to issue their premise ID numbers.“

Final Change to be Made on One Common Day

“What we hope to do with the tattoos,“ Hodgman concludes, “is we think on the prairies we should be doing this (making the change) at a specific time. There’s a lot of interprovincial traffic and trade in pork and in live animals so it makes sense to do it on one single day that we agree on, likely at the first of April or the end of April.“

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