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- 8322
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. 70 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

Reports– published and made available by CRS beginning in 2017

Animal Identification and Traceability: Overview and Issues (2010)

Subjects- published by CRS and made available by NALC until 2018:

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)
National Animal Health Surveillance System (NAHSS)

Surveillance Information for:

Sheep and Goats

National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS)
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 (2019)
Animal Disease Traceability: Monitoring and Compliance (2017)
Official Eartags: National Uniform Eartagging System (NUES) (2018)
National Scrapie Eradication Program: Animal Identification and Recordkeeping Guide for Sheep and Goats (2019)
Animal Disease Traceability: Summary of Federal Interstate Movement Requirements by Species (2014)

Congressional Resources

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

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
New Zealand National Animal Identification and Tracing

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


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

NIAA 2018 Annual Conference – Livestock Traceability: Opportunities for Animal Agriculture
Animal Identification Posts (Ag & Food Law Blog)
United States Animal Health Association
Glossary of Electronic Animal Identification Terms (Beef Stocker USA)
Connecticut Animal Premises Registration
Illinois Dept. of Agriculture: Premises Registration & Animal Identification
Indiana Board of Animal Health: Traceability & Premise ID
Maryland Dept. of Agriculture: Animal Disease Traceability
Animal Disease Traceability Road Map for Michigan
Beef Identification (RFID) – MSU Extension
Missouri Animal Identification Program
Kansas Division of Animal Health: Animal Disease Traceability
Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium
CattleTrace Voluntary Animal Disease Traceability Program


Benefits of an Animal Traceability System for a Foot-and-Mouth Disease Outbreak: A Supply-Driven Social Accounting Matrix Approach (Kim et al., 2017)
Piloting a Livestock Identification and Traceability System in the Northern Tanzania-Narok-Nairobi Trade Route (Mutua et al., 2017)
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)