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How Does the CSIP Work?

A national identification ear tag is applied before an animal leaves its flock of origin. As a minimum requirement the ear tag bears a visible unique number and a "CA" logo. The numbers are assigned to tag manufacturers and tags are distributed through authorized retail stores and other distributors. The distribution centers maintain records of which numbers went to which producers. This information is reported to a central database maintained by the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA). At the packing plant the unique identification number is maintained up to and including the point of carcass inspection.

Unlike the Canadian Cattle Identification Program, sheep producers are required to keep records of the movement of animals. This decision was made mainly to keep costs low for producers by not requiring the use of barcoded tags, which are more expensive. These tags are scanned post slaughter and their numbers are removed from the CCIA database. This indicates to CFIA, in the event of a disease concern, that the animals with retired tags are no longer in the food chain and are not the source of the concern.

In the sheep industry, however, the tags are not retired from the database. In order to keep costs low for producers, the minimum required ear tag is the Ketchum Kurl Lock # 3. Since, this tag is not machine readable, it would be very costly to have these tags visually read at the point of slaughter to retire them from the database. Instead, producers are required to record the movement of breeding animals.

In the event of a health or safety issue involving an animal, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will be given access by the CCIA to the record of the flock of origin. Using the records maintained by the producers, CFIA will trace the movement of the animal from the flock of origin to its last location to determine the source of the problem.

In the vast majority of cases, when no health or safety issue is noted, the unique individual ID will be accessed only when it is entered into the CCIA database.


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