Is It Time For Mandatory Animal ID Testing?

(May 10, 2012) Is it time for a national animal identification system? That’s a question we asked National Milk’s Chris Galen after a rare case of mad cow disease/BSE was discovered in California a few weeks ago.

The most recent case was classified as an “atypical strain,” meaning officials don’t believe the cow contracted the disease by consuming tainted feed, which is how hundreds of thousands of cattle in Europe were infected in the 1980’s and 90’s.

The latest case of a nearly 11-year-old dairy cow could be a spontaneous occurrence, said Galen. “A mutation in the neurological system of these cows when they are older.”

Officials were able to trace at least two of its offspring; one was stillborn and the other euthanized and tested negative for BSE.

Galen said it would help to have a system in place for animal identification and trace back so we can find out more if we do continue to see an occasional case of BSE in this country.

“We think it is actually one of the take-aways from this whole process,” he said. “The U.S. still lacks something that Canada and other countries have, and that is a good, effective, mandatory, national animal identification system.”

“We have informal record keeping to help with herd records in the dairy industry but what we don’t have is a mandatory national animal I-D system, and hopefully that may be the one thing that is a fall-out of this recent case of BSE,” he concluded.

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