Tagging and Animal ID

The backbone of traceability

All calves born on dairy farms across Canada are identified with a unique 15-digit ear tag that begins with the numbers “124”. This number stays with the animal for its entire life, meets international ISO standards, and is recognized by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Learn how calves should be properly tagged

Double Tagging

The ultimate goal of DairyTrace is double tagging of all dairy animals. Tagging your calves at birth provides an efficient way to permanently identify the animal with a unique number. Dual tag sets are comprised of an RFID electronic tag, ideally placed in the right ear of the animal, and a secondary panel tag placed in the left ear. This safeguard ensures that if an animal loses one tag, they can still be identified with another, as well as having the capability to work with RFID technology and electronic tag readers.

We depend on healthy livestock and it is feasible to contain disease and track its sources with a reliable traceability system. Rapidly identifying affected sites and animals can prevent disease spread.

Tag Activation/Birth Events

All newborn animals – male or female – are tagged at birth, recorded on-farm and then reported to the DairyTrace system;

  • Tagging on-farm is required within seven (7) days of birth or before the animal leaves the farm of origin, whichever comes first;
  • Premises ID, the 15-digit ear tag ID, and the animal’s date of birth are required;
  • Tags must be reported to DairyTrace (activated) within 45 days of the animal’s birth, or before the animal leaves the farm of origin, whichever occurs first;
  • It is recommended to activate the tags the same day that you apply them to the animal
  • Tagging for stillborn calves is not required if they are disposed of on-farm, however, tagging as well as reporting the tag activation, is required if they are leaving the farm to go to a rendering facility (who will record and report the tag retirement).

Resources for proper tag positioning

Successful Tag Retention

Ultraflex Better Tag Retention

Visit Calfcare.ca to get calves off to a healthy start!

Tag Loss Events

Properly double tagged dairy animals can move off farm anywhere at any time, however, when an animal loses their tag, it must be replaced and then reported.

  • If the same tag number can immediately be re-ordered, reporting is required once applied. Write the number on a generic tag (photo or sketch) until the re-issued tag is received and can be attached.
  • If lost due to normal wear and tear, re-issues are free in all provinces except for animals originating from Quebec or the US.
  • If an animal is re-tagged with a NEW number, recording and reporting is necessary within seven (7) days and must be cross-referenced to the previous known ID in the DairyTrace system.
  • If the animal is American, imported from the United States, the lost US “840” tag must be cross referenced with the Canadian “124” number and both numbers must be reported to DairyTrace.
  • If an unknown animal is re-tagged with a NEW number, recording and reporting is necessary within seven (7) days to activate the new tag in the DairyTrace system.

Tagging of Imported Animals from the US

“840” electronic dairy ear tags for animals born in the U.S. are acceptable forms of identification for animals imported from the United States into Canada. Canadian “124” tags are not required unless the animal loses its tag.

More Options to Make Your Life Easier

In addition to software solutions that can record and automatically report traceability data to DairyTrace, our partners can also help. For example, if you register your calf with your breed association, ideally before 45 days old, they can automatically activate the tag and report the animal for you as they record it into the Herdbook. Furthermore, if a registered animal is imported to Canada from the U.S., the owner can also ask the breed association to report the import and movement events AND also transfer herdbook data from the U.S. at the same time, to be able to register future progeny.

Quick and Easy Tutorials

We’ve got quick 1–2-minute easy step-by-step videos to help you navigate through the DairyTrace portal. Learn how to activate tags, submit tag replacements, report tag retirements and more!

Definition of Dairy Cattle:

Dairy cattle are a sub-group of animals in the bovine species. For DairyTrace, a dairy animal is defined based on how a bovine animal is identified at birth or upon importation into Canada. Regardless of the sex of the calf, or breed of the sire, or intended use/destination of the animal, all animals born from dams used for dairy production are each identified with unique numbers and information regarding animal movement is collected. This all happens under the DairyTrace program, administered by Lactanet Canada and approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

A bovine animal that bears an approved indicator with an identification number that falls within the range provided by CFIA for dairy cattle.

This includes:

(a) bovine animals with an identification number between 124 000 000 000 001 and 124 000 099 999 999 or between 124 000 120 000 000 and 124 000 139 999 999.

(b) a subset of bovine animals born in the province of Quebec with an identification number between 124 000 100 000 000 and 124 000 119 999 999 and identified within the Attestra traceability system as being a dairy animal.

(c) bovine animals imported from the United States with an identification number bearing the ISO-3166-1 numeric standard country code of 840 (instead of 124) and are identified by the importer or the Canadian owner as being a dairy animal, or the animal is registered in Canada by one of the national dairy cattle breed associations.