NEW! Watch the ALP webinar 'Livestock Traceability: Why it's Important to You' with Katherine Altman recorded on January 30, 2017 (When the video is playing, click the 'Full Screen' icon at bottom right to enlarge)


Traceability refers to processes allowing the tracing of an animal or animal product all the way through the supply chain, from birth to slaughter. A fully functional livestock traceability system is based upon three pillars:

  • Animal Identification – each animal has a unique identification number
  • Premises Identification – is a geographic location which can be used for disease, health and food safety purposes and effective emergency response.
  • Animal Movement Tracking – provides the ability to trace where an animal has been and what animals it has come in contact with over the course of its life. In the event of a disease outbreak, knowing the movement history of an animal is very important in supporting efficient trace-back.

Together, these enable the Office of the Chief Provincial Veterinarian (OCVP) or other emergency management officials to pinpoint and isolate specific sites of concern and target resources in the event of a threat to animal or human health as a result of a natural disaster. The integrity of this system also translates into opportunities for Alberta’s livestock and meat industries to differentiate their products. A comprehensive traceability system provides necessary assurances to markets and consumers around the world that our products are safe and of high quality.

With these three pillars in place, Canada will have a robust and reliable traceability system that delivers full confidence in source verification for all livestock species, including cattle, hogs, sheep, poultry and horses. This includes having in place 48-hour emergency response and tracking capabilities. Legislation will be in place to mandate this program.

More details are available on the Alberta Agriculture and Forestry webiste at Traceability in Alberta website. Check the interactive 'Traceability Connects' map-based directory of traceability service providers for producers and industry. At the click of a mouse, connect to the traceability services you need, for any species, at a location close to you.

Traceability for sheep producers

The first two pillars are already mandatory in Alberta for sheep producers.

Alberta Lamb Producers is communicating with the government on traceability, representing producer interests as this mandatory program is being developed.


Producers will not be required to purchase readers, software etc, but negotiations have begun on the availability of Growing Forward funding to assist with purchase of equipment for those producers who choose to use RFID for management purposes.