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FSA launches livestock traceability and safety system

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“In the wake of the 1st outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease in the Free State, Free State Agriculture (FSA) took decisive action,” stated Francois Wilken, President of Free State Agriculture. “Our members mandated Congress to urgently investigate an animal traceability and safety system to mitigate further risks.”

The Foot and Mouth disease outbreak had significant financial ramifications for the province’s livestock value chain, impacting farmers, agents, auctioneers, feedlots, abattoirs, and exporters. In response, FSA embarked on a thorough exploration of various systems to address this critical need.

“Our investigation encompassed a wide array of solutions, including existing livestock management software, micro-chips, geo-based, and IoT-smart connected systems. Each option was rigorously evaluated based on practical application, cost-effectiveness, and market readiness,” says Wilken. Of paramount importance was ensuring ICAR approval. ICAR serves as the international Standards and Certification body for animal biosecurity and traceability products, providing accreditation to manufacturers and issuing unique identification numbers.

After many meetings with industry role-players and trialling some of the systems, FSA selected AIMS (Animal Identification and Movement System), developed and already in use by Agri Easten Cape, to be set up for the Free State. Allfex is the long time trusted ear tag supplier providing Electronic Identification- (EID) and Visual ID- (VID) laser printed tags with a unique animal ID number. VID tags feature a QR code of the unique number making accurate data capture possible with a smart phone.

Dr Jack Armour, Commercial manager for FSA, explains that the FS-AIMS (Animal Identification, Movement and Safety) system provides a platform for ordering and assigning uniquely numbered ear tags to your livestock, for logging sale and transfer of livestock to new locations with the necessary Section 6 and 8 transfer forms and an animal health form. If any animals are found with the unique tags, current ownership can quickly be traced. As a bridge-building exercise and to add a further safety dimension, FSA is busy securing sponsorship to, with cooperation of the state vets and commonage farmer committees, tag and record ownership of commonage livestock onto the system.         

At a meeting addressing the Bethlehem District Farmers Union on 27 February, FSA launched the live site for FS-AIMS that can be accessed from the FSA website Clicking on the FS-AIMS Tag image takes you to a free registration site where any livestock farmer can securely populate their profile with essential information required for traceability and safety such as contact details, mandatory registered brand mark (as per the Animal Identification Act) and location details of farms/land/feedlots/auction sites where animals are kept and transition. All data populated is subject to the FSA POPI Act compliance protocol to protect personal information. Existing animal tag information and data from existing management systems can also be loaded onto FS-AIMS.         

Going forward the FS and EC have a cooperation agreement to develop AIMS further. R1 from each tag sold goes to improve the system to keep pace with industry trends and needs. If and when the State eventually makes a National Livestock Identification and Traceability System (LITS) compulsory, a farmer will have the option to seamlessly transfer his/her select data from FS-AIMS to the national LITS, and the ICAR approved tags giving unique identification to an animal will be acceptable for farm-to-slaughter traceability.