Animal Identification & Tracing



An animal identification system traces the whereabouts and movement of certain animals. Different methods of animal identification, such as branding, have been used for thousands of years, but typically as a way of proving ownership, rather than as a method of animal identification.  However, beginning in the 1940s, animal identification has also focused on the whereabouts and movement of certain animals.  At that time, state and federal programs tracing movement of livestock involved in disease outbreaks were instituted for some diseases in cattle, swine & sheep, and some of these programs…  Read the full overview.


Note: Recently added resources are posted at the top of the applicable sections.

Major Statutes

The Animal Health Protection Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 8301- 8317

Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 552

Uniform Commercial Code, Article 2 – Sales

Compilation of States’ Animal Identification Statutes


Regulations Pertaining to the Movement of Livestock, 9 C.F.R. pts. 71 to 89

Federal Register Rules Open for Comment

Case Law

Case Law Index for Animal Identification

Center Research Publications

Cattle Traceability: Potential Legal Implications (Rumley & Dowell)

Issue Brief: Petition for Policy Change in FSIS’ “Product of U.S.A.” Label (Lizano, Rumley)

Legal Issues in Animal Agriculture: Medication, Identification and Accommodations (E. Rumley)

Compilation of States’ Animal Identification Statutes (E. Rumley, 2010)

Confidentiality and Liability Under the National Animal Identification System – PowerPoint Presentation (Springsteen, 2009)

Approaching Liability with Animal Identification (Pendergrass, 2007)

A Comparison of International Animal Identification Programs (Pendergrass, 2007)

Varying State Approaches to Confidentiality with Premises and Animal Identification Systems (Pendergrass, 2007)

State Identification Statutes: Confidentiality Provisions Relating to Animal and Premises Identification (Pendergrass, 2007)

Animal Identification and the Next Farm Bill (O’Brien, 2006)

Legal Issues in Developing a Plan for Animal Identification (Roberts and Pittman, 2004)

Congressional Research Service Reports

CRS Subject(s):

Animal Agriculture

Agricultural Law Bibliography

Introduction   |   Keyword Search   |   Browse Categories

Legal publications on Animal Identification:

Animals – Animal Rights
Farmer-Processor Bargaining – Production Contracts
Livestock and Packers & Stockyards
Sustainable and Organic Farming

Reference Resources

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

Animal Disease Traceability

Final Rule: Traceability for Livestock Moved Interstate, Summary of General Requirements by Species (2013)

Questions and Answers: Animal Disease Traceability Final Rule (2012)

Animal Disease Traceability: General Standards (2016)

Animal Disease Traceability: Monitoring and Compliance (2014)

Congressional Resources

To Review Animal Identification Systems (U.S. House Agriculture Committee Meeting on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry, March 11, 2009)

NAIS: USDA Needs to Resolve Several Key Implementation Issues to Achieve Rapid and Effective Disease Traceback (GAO, 2007)

An Overall Strategy Is Needed to Strengthen Disease Surveillance in Livestock and Poultry (GAO, 2013)

International Resources

World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)

OIE International Conference on Animal Identification and Traceabiltiy (Buenas Aires, March, 2009)

General Principles on Identification and Traceability of Live Animals (Terrestrial Animal Health Code, Ch. 4.1)

Identification and Traceability (OIE Seminar on Food Safety, Sofia, Bulgaria, April, 2009)
Design and Implementation of Identification Systems to Achieve Animal Traceability (Terrestrial Animal Health Code, Ch. 4.2)

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Traceability

Australia: National Livestock Identification System

United Kingdom:

Livestock Movements, Identification and Tracing for Cattle, Sheep, Goats, Pigs, Deer and Horses (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, UK)
Wales: Keeping Farmed Animals
Northern Ireland: Animal Identification, Registration and Movement
Scotland: Livestock Identification and Traceability


National Livestock Identification for Dairy
Sheep Identification Program
PigTrace Canada: Canadian Swine Traceability System
Canadian Cattle Identification Agency

European Union: Identification

Additional Resources

Animal Identification Posts (Ag & Food Law Blog)

United States Animal Health Association

Glossary of Electronic Animal Identification Terms (Beef Stocker USA)

Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium

Mandatory Cattle Identification Program Q & A

Indiana Board of Animal Health: Premise ID


Review of Selected Cattle Identification and Tracing Systems Worldwide (MAF Biosecurity New Zealand, 2009)

Review: Animal Identification Systems in North America (Murphy et al., 2008)

Review: Identification and Traceability of Cattle in Selected Countries Outside of North America (Bowling et al., 2008)

Review: Sheep Traceability Systems in Selected Countries Outside of North America (Bass et al., 2008)

Review: Swine Traceability Systems in Selected Countries Outside of North America (Meisinger et al., 2008)

Lessons Learned from the Canadian Cattle Industry: National Animal Identification and the Mad Cow (Midwest Agribusiness Trade Research and Information Center, Lawrence et al., 2003)