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January 30, 2014
Electronic livestock brand, health inspection programs to increase efficiency, accuracy

The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) has contracted with two companies to develop software that will allow inspectors to conduct brand inspections and animal health inspections in the field and electronically upload the data to the UDAF offices in real time. When completed, Utah will be one of the first states using an electronic animal health and brand inspection system.

“It will improve efficiency, reduce errors when calculating fees, and help us better track livestock that are sold, shipped out of state, or sent to slaughter” said Cody James, Livestock Inspection Bureau Chief, UDAF.

Currently inspectors compile bi-weekly reports of all their inspections and send them to the main office in Salt Lake City, where the information is filed. It can take 2-4 weeks for that information to be available for tracking livestock. Inspections often take place just before animals are transported out of state, or when they are sold. If the paper inspection certificate is lost it can be difficult for the port of entry or livestock auctions to verify whether inspections have been completed. James said the new system will speed up that process and improve efficiency in tracking the movement of animals. Current photographs of the animals can also be uploaded electronically and placed on file with the inspection certificate.

“We will still issue paper certificates that will be printed and signed in the field, but the form will be filled out electronically using a laptop computer or tablet,” said James. The data will be immediately sent to the UDAF main office if internet is available where the inspection takes place. Otherwise, as soon at the device is in an area where there is an Internet connection, the file will automatically upload.

Along with recording the inspections in real time, the new system will save inspectors time during inspections by automatically filling in addresses and other information already on file. The program will also automatically calculate fees, which will save time and reduce errors.

The electronic system will also benefit livestock owners because it is one more tool that can reduce livestock theft and potentially increase recovery rates for stolen animals.

“It really increases the traceability,” said James. The improved ability to trace the history of the animal will also help people who are purchasing livestock feel more confident about the health and history of the animals. Because the brand inspection data can be pared with animal health certificates, it’s kind of like a Carfax report for livestock, he concluded.

USA Herds and Fort Supply are working jointly on the program, which should be ready for testing later this year, and in use by early 2015.

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