All breeding cattle 18 months of age and older that are offered for sale at Kentucky stockyards are required to be identified with the state veterinarian’s office effective Feb. 14, State Veterinarian Robert C. Stout has announced.

“When disease is identified in Kentucky cattle, it is important to identify affected and exposed animals as quickly as possible and with a minimum of cost and inconvenience to producers,” Dr. Stout said. “This requirement will make it easier for the Office of the State Veterinarian to pin-point outbreaks and eradicate them while unaffected producers can carry on with business as usual.”

Metal ear tags in the U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved state series are available at no charge to producers and may be obtained from the state veterinarian’s office or from a veterinarian. Official tags that are already in place are sufficient to satisfy the requirement. That includes the metal USDA-approved tags and RFID tags in the 840 series or stamped with the USDA shield.

Staffs of the state veterinarian’s office and the USDA area veterinarian’s office are working cooperatively with market veterinarians and stockyard management to implement the requirement. The state veterinarian’s office acted in advance of federal traceability requirements for interstate movement of livestock that are expected to be published this spring.

About 150,000 breeding cattle 18 months of age and older (also known as “head cattle”) pass through Kentucky stockyards every year.

Two beef cattle in a Fleming County herd tested positive for bovine tuberculosis in May 2010, the first cases in Kentucky since 1981.

In South Korea, more than 3 million animals have been culled to contain an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. A disease of cattle and other cloven-hooved animals, FMD has not been identified in the United States since 1929 but is highly contagious and easily transmissible.

The state veterinarian’s office is authorized to impose the requirement under state regulation 302 KAR 20:070, section 2(6).