Description of regulatory requirements

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The Health of Animals Regulations outlines the requirements for the identification of cattle, bison, sheep and pigs and how to report their movement. The following list is a summary of these requirements. For further precision, please refer to the Health of Animal Regulations and the resources listed below. Information provided on this page addresses federal traceability requirements only. For questions on specific provincial traceability requirements, please contact your provincial government.

General requirements

  • All cattle, bison and sheep must be identified with an approved tag before leaving the site where they were born. In the event an animal is born at a site other than a farm, it may be moved to a farm in order to be identified with an approved tag.
  • The identification numbers printed on approved tags are unique and correspond to a species. It is illegal to apply approved tags meant for a given species to animals of a different species.
  • Approved tags must be applied on animals at the site for which the tag identification number was issued. Producers shall not purchase approved tags for their operation then sell or give them to another operation.
  • No person shall make, sell or provide a tag that so closely resembles an approved tag that it is likely to be mistaken for one.
  • Cattle and bison may be moved to an approved tagging site in order to be safely identified with an approved tag. Tagging sites do not apply to sheep or pigs, and may not be abattoirs or any site that disposes of carcasses.
  • It is prohibited to send, transport or receive animals not bearing an approved tag or otherwise identified as required under the Regulations.
  • With the exception of operators of abattoirs, it is prohibited for someone to remove an approved tag or an approved tag that has been revoked from an animal.
  • An approved tag or an approved tag that has been revoked may be removed from a disposed carcass.
  • In the event an animal loses its approved tag, the person who has care or control of the animal must replace it with another approved tag and record the new and, if known, the former identification of the approved tags.
  • In the event a new approved tag is applied to an animal or a carcass bearing a revoked tag, the identification number of the new tag and of the revoked tag must be reported to the administrator.
  • The identification number of an approved tag borne by the carcass of a cattle, bison or sheep needs to be reported to the administrator within 30 days of the carcass disposal.
  • The import of cattle, bison and sheep must be reported to the administrator within 30 days for cattle, 60 days for bison and seven days for sheep and pigs.
  • Imported cattle, bison and sheep must be identified with a Canadian approved tag either before or soon after importation unless (a) they are imported for immediate slaughter or (b) they are already bearing a tag deemed equivalent to a Canadian approved tag.
  • The export of cattle and bison must be reported to the administrator within 30 days; within seven days for pigs.

Compliance

Compliance is achieved through a co-operative approach between the regulated party and the CFIA. To promote compliance, the CFIA, in co-operation with the responsible administrators, uses a number of different tools (consultation, publication of information, awareness campaigns, etc) to inform the regulated parties of the legislative and regulatory requirements they must meet.

In the event of a violation against a regulatory requirement, four enforcement actions may be taken under the program: seizure and detention (in the event of falsified tags), letter of non-compliance, notice of violation (with or without an administrative monetary penalty) and prosecution. The level of administrative monetary penalties is set under the Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations.

Additional resources

For more information about livestock identification and traceability requirements:

Health of Animals Act

Part XV of the Health of Animals Regulations

Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations

List of responsible administrators

Provincial livestock identification and traceability regulatory requirements:

Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec - (French only)

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry

Questions and answers

Can you send or transport animals to an abattoir, and provide the approved tags to the operator of the abattoir in a bag for he/she to report the 'retirement' event?

No. Approved tags must be applied to the animals' ears before being transported. Abattoirs are not tagging sites.

Do cattle, bison or sheep slaughtered on-farm need to be identified with an approved tag?

No. They do not need to be identified with an approved tag if they have never left their farm of origin.

How does the export of an animal need to be reported to the administrator?

The exporter shall report an 'Exported' event to the administrator, not a 'Retired' event even though the animals are exported for immediate slaughter. The event 'Retired' is only used to report the death of an animal or the receipt of a carcass.

For how long do I have to keep my records?

Records specific to sheep movements have to be kept for 5 years. All other records are required to be kept for 2 years.

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