The national dairy cattle traceability program will come online in the fall
By Diego Flammini
Canada’s national dairy cattle traceability program will be operational this October.
Dairy Farmers of Canada and Lactanet Canada have been working on the program, known as DairyTrace, since 2016. On June 8, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced its support for Lactanet to be the national administrator of the program responsible for dairy cattle.
The program also received funding from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.
DairyTrace will consist of three main pillars, said Brian Van Doormaal, chief services officer with Lactanet.
The first pillar is related to animal identification.
“The first one is unique lifetime identification of every animal born,” he told Farms.com. “An animal receives a specific number that’s dedicated to dairy cattle. The number would remain with that animal from its birth to end of life.”
The second pillar of DairyTrace is premises identification.
“This is an identification number given to any premises or location in Canada that an animal may reside in during its lifetime,” Van Doormaal said. “Every dairy farm will have a premises identification number, every assembly yard, every auction yard and every abattoir would have a number.”
Premises IDs are managed at the provincial level. Farmers must know their individual numbers and have them registered with the province.
DairyTrace’s final pillar is movement tracking.
The database helps keep track of dairy cattle moving in and out of premises and who the transporter is. When the animal’s life ends, the identification number it received at birth is then retired.
An important reason for having a national traceability program is disease surveillance.
Having multiple data points can help minimize potential outbreaks, Van Doormaal said.
“If there was a disease outbreak on a farm and the incubation period is 14 days, you could look back at the animals that were on the farm with the disease,” he said. “You can backtrack to see where the disease may have come from, and forward track to see who else may contract it.”
An added benefit of DairyTrace is consumer trust.
“Consumers are looking for safe products and the dairy industry wants to deliver on that,” he said. “We can ensure that the animal that produced the milk was on a farm and passed quality assurance tests on that farm.”
DairyTrace isn’t a public database to search for any animal, but account holders can look up animals within individual accounts.
“If it is your animal, you can have complete traceability on animals you do own,” Van Doormaal said.
The national program is replicating a provincial traceability program on a larger scale.
Agri-Traçabilité Québec has been keeping data points on dairy cattle in Quebec for 18 years.
“Farmers in Quebec have had tons of experience, and that makes us confident that DairyTrace will meet the needs of Canadian dairy farmers very well,” Van Doormaal said.