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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Canadian Sheep Identification Program?
The Canadian Sheep Identification Program is an industry-led initiative to develop a trace back system that will address producer concerns about sheep health and meet consumer expectations for quality assurance and food safety.

When does the Program begin?
The Canadian Sheep Identification Program was implemented on January 1st, 2004.

Is the Program mandatory?
Yes. The Program is governed by the Health of Animals Act. It is enforced by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

How does the Program Work?
After January 1st, all sheep and lambs will bear an approved ear tag before they leave their flock of origin. Each tag will carry a unique identification number. These numbers are assigned by the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency to tag manufacturers. Tags are distributed directly by tag manufacturers or other authorized dealers. Tag distributors keep track of which numbers went to which producers. This information is reported to CCIA and is entered into a confidential database. At the packing plant the unique number will be maintained up to and including the point of carcass inspection. Sheep producers will also keep records of breeding stock movement. In the event of a health or safety issue involving an animal, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will be given access to the database. They will use this information, along with producer records to trace the movement of the animal from the flock of origin to its last location to determine the source of the concern.

What tags do I use?
Currently, the pink steel Ketchum Kurl –Lock # 3 tag is the only approved tag available for the Program. Alternate tags manufactured by Allflex Canada will be available in the near future. Additional tags may be added after the first year of the Program.

Where do I buy my tags?
In British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, producers will purchase their tags from the Canadian Cooperative Wool Growers’ Limited (CCWG). Producers in Ontario, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island may purchase their tags from CCWG, farm supply stores or directly from the tag manufacturer.

What records do I keep?
Producers are required to keep records of all sheep and lambs entering their farm for breeding purposes and all sheep 18 months and older leaving their farm to a destination other than a provincially or federally inspected abattoir. A Record of Movement Form has been designed to help producers meet this requirement. The form is available at www.cansheep.ca

Can my animals be tagged at Auction Barns?
No. Producers must tag the animals before they leave their farm. Auction barns are not permitted to receive untagged animals and are not permitted to act as tagging stations under the Program. They are only permitted to replace tags that have been lost.

Who is responsible for purchasing and applying tags?
Generally, producers are responsible for purchasing and applying tags. In a situation, however, where the owner and operator of a farm are two different people, it would normally be the owner of the farm who would buy the tags and the operator who would apply them to the animals.

Is this a national program?
The CSIP provides the minimum national standard for sheep identification in the country. Quebec, however, has designed their own program that exceeds these minimum requirements
.
What happens to the tags at the slaughterhouse?
This program ends at the point of the slaughterhouse. Here, the tags are left on the animal until the point of carcass inspection or until the animal has been approved for human consumption. Unlike the cattle identification program, tags are not retired at the slaughterhouse.

Are there any exemptions in the Program?
No. There are no exemptions in the Canadian Sheep Identification Program, in part, because it makes the program easier to enforce. Although there were exemptions in the cattle program for vet clinics, exhibitions, community pastures and test stations, the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency has agreed to remove these in light of the BSE incident.

Do penalties for not complying with the program apply only to producers?

The focus of enforcement will be on producers since they are responsible for tagging and record-keeping. However, there are also provisions prohibiting the transportation and reception of unidentified animals.

What if the animal’s ear becomes infected from the tag?
If the tag is applied according to the manufacturer’s instructions, the ear should not become infected. If, however, it does become infected by the presence of the tag to the extent that it becomes a welfare issue, CFIA would not object to the removal of the tag and its replacement by another tag. If the animal was still in its flock of origin, no record would be required although it would be a good practice. If the animal was no longer in its flock of origin, a record would be required of the original tag number and the replacement tag number.

What if a sheep or lamb dies in transit? Does the tag number need to be recorded,
and who is responsible for keep the record?

The most relevant provision is subsection 186(3) which states:

"If an animal bearing an approved tag is slaughtered or otherwise dies on a farm or ranch or at an auction barn, the operator of the farm, ranch or auction barn shall keep a record of the slaughter or death of the animal and the number of its approved tag.

No specific reference is made to an animal dying in transit.

If family members own individual flocks that are comingled, do you need a separate set of tags for each flock?
If the animals are kept on the same premises, only one set of tags should be used. If the animals are on separate premises and are never co-mingled, then separate sets of tags should be used.

If I am moving my sheep and lambs between properties that I own, do they need to be tagged?
In order to avoid any doubt, the sheep and lambs should be tagged before they leave the flock of origin.

Section 176 of the legislation, prohibits the removal of an unidentified animal from its farm of origin. Subsection 177(1) prohibits the transportation of an unidentified animal. The farm of origin is defined in section 172 and is essentially the flock of birth. The interpretation, therefore, is that if a lamb leaves it's flock of birth, it needs to be identified.

Practically, a sheep producer may have several premises under his ownership but, unless they are contiguous sites, they are not collectively considered to be the flock of origin. The producer who takes his animals a couple miles up the road to other land that he owns or rents, and there is no commingling, should not have a problem due to inspector discretion. The producer taking his animals to any of his premises of any significant distance or time from the farm of origin should ensure that they are identified to avoid being in violation.



 

 

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