Animal Disease Traceability


The USDA previously announced a proposal to phase out visual only official identification (ID) ear tags for cattle and bison to move towards official radio frequency ID (RFID) ear tags. In October 2019, the USDA put a hold on this proposal and the previously communicated timeline for this transition. Please see USDA’s website for more information. USDA’s current statement on Animal Disease Traceability can be found on their website. The Board continues to support movement towards official RFID ear tags.

Enhancing Traceability for Animal Health Protection

Livestock producers and the Board have worked together over the years to eliminate diseases like pseudorabies, swine brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis. In order to continue safeguarding animal health, we are working to increase the efficiency and speed at which animals can be traced in Minnesota.

The board is working with livestock producers and organizations across the state to increase awareness of the importance and necessity of official animal identification. When a disease investigation occurs, animal health officials need to be able to trace affected animals quickly to ensure diseases are eliminated and the impact on Minnesota’s industry is minimized.

How can you help?

Complete, legible, records are crucial to effectively tracing livestock. There are a variety of records required as part of Minnesota’s animal disease traceability program.

Official Identification Record Requirements

Learn about official identification options on the Board’s official identification page. When official identification ear tags are applied, records must be kept.

Persons who apply official ear tags to livestock must maintain records on each animal identified, including:

  1. The characters on or contained within the ear tag.
  2. Characters on or contained within other official ear tags on the animal.
  3. Species, sex, age, and type of animal.
  4. Date of application.
  5. Name and address of the premises where the animal was identified.


  • If an animal is already identified with an official ear tag:
    • An additional official ear tag of the same type may not be applied without prior permission from the Board.
    • An additional official ear tag of a different type may be applied if all official ear tag numbers are recorded on all official records required by the Board.
  • A person may not tamper with or remove official ear tags from an animal without the Board’s permission.


  • Veterinarians may distribute official identification ear tags to their clients for application to Minnesota livestock. When official ear tags are distributed records must be kept, including:
    • Date of distribution.
    • The characters on or contained within each ear tag distributed.
    • Name and address of the premises where the livestock to be identified reside.

Cattle and Bison Record Requirements

A person or entity that purchases, acquires, trades, deals in, sells, or disposes of cattle must maintain records on the acquisition and disposition of the cattle. Records must be retained for five years.

Records required include:

  1. Date of the transaction.
  2. Number of animals included in each transaction.
  3. Species, breed, age, and class of animal.
  4. Names and addresses of the persons or entities from whom the animals were acquired and to whom the animals were sent.
  5. The official identification number of each head of breeding cattle, rodeo cattle, and all cattle for exhibition correlated with the names and addresses of the persons or entities from whom the animals were acquired and to whom the animals were sent.
  6. Back tag numbers, if required.
  7. Certificates of Veterinary Inspection, if required.

Producers Importing Livestock

When livestock are imported from out-of-state, Minnesota livestock producers must work with the livestock producer in the state of origin of the livestock. The out-of-state producer must tell their veterinarian to call the Board’s office to learn about the import requirements for the livestock entering the State of Minnesota.  Minnesota livestock producers can be held responsible for imported livestock that do not meet the state’s import requirements.

Follow this link to read our Import requirements, or call our office at 651-296-2942. Alternatively, you can visit to view requirements for states.

Minnesota Licensed Auctioneers Selling Livestock

The Board has rules that apply to the movement of livestock. For example, Minnesota Rule 1721.0140 subp 2 [click here to read rule] requires that records be kept by any person or entity that purchases, acquires, trades, deals in, sells, or disposes of cattle within the State of Minnesota. Details on the contents of these records are outlined in the link above. Livestock records are required to be maintained for five years and must be made available to the Board upon request.

In addition, all cattle intended for breeding, rodeo, or exhibition, as well as all intact dairy females (including crossbreeds), all bulls 10 months of age and over, and all beef heifers 18 months of age and over are required to be officially identified upon movement from the herd to another location. Each official identification number must be documented as part of the livestock records.

Any livestock moving interstate must also meet requirements of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the state of destination. This, at minimum, is a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) issued by an accredited veterinarian. Official identification, import permits, testing, and/or vaccinations may also be required prior to interstate movement.

In circumstances where the livestock to be sold are not identified by the livestock owner (property owner, bank, auctioneer, etc), the livestock requiring official identification cannot move from the premises until there is appropriate identification in place. Complete records must be kept and an accredited veterinarian must be available for any sales/auctions where there is the potential for animals to be moved interstate.

Please consult our website under Find Field Staff Nearby [click here to view staff map] to find the closest Minnesota Board of Animal Health field personnel that can assist with answering questions on the requirements for official identification and movement of livestock. The Board advises all Minnesota licensed auctioneers to work with their clients to be certain all requirements are met by the sellers of all livestock.