What is Traceability:

Traceability refers to systems that 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 the three pillars listed below. Aspects of all three pillars are already mandatory in Alberta for sheep producers.  

  • Animal Identification – The ability to identify and track animals as they are moved through the production system is one of the pillars of traceability. In Canada, all sheep and lambs must be identifed according to the Canadian Sheep Identification Program.
  • Premises Identification – Alberta’s PID Program was established to plan for, control, and prevent the spread of agricultural diseases. If you are an owner of livestock in Alberta you are required under Alberta's Animal Health Act to obtain a Premises Identification (PID) account and obtain a PID number. A PID number is a unique identifying number assigned to a specific piece of property.It is also used as an early warning system to notify animal owners of a natural disaster such as a flood or fire that could affect their animals or operations. By completing a PID Application and keeping your information up-to-date, you will take an important step in protecting your animals and those of other Alberta and Canadian producers. Read more.
  • Animal Movement  – provides the ability to trace where an animal has been and what other 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.  In Alberta a transport manifest is required in most circumstances when sheep are transported. Read more on the Alberta Agriculture and Forestry website or download instructions for completing the manifest.  
    Full animal tracking is still under development.  Proposed changes to traceability programs, included enhanced movement tracking, are anticipated to be in place in 2019. Read more about the proposed regulatory changes.

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 website Traceability in Alberta. 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.

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

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)

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