CowCatcher traceability exercise a success


The Chairman of SAFEMEAT, Jack Ware today stated that the recent ‘CowCatcher II’ cattle traceability exercise undertaken by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry was a success.

Mr Ware said the CowCatcher II exercise tested the ability of each state to comply with all five National Traceability Performance Standards for the first time.

"Because all states now have implemented NLIS, almost 99 percent of cattle were traced back to their property of birth within 24 hours," Mr Ware said.

"The 300 animals used for the tracing exercise were in turn linked to hundreds of thousand of other animals. One state which was allocated 57 cattle to trace found that they had had potential contact with 460,000 cattle over their lifetime."

The final report from CowCatcher II makes 21 recommendations for further improving the tracing system and these have been endorsed by SAFEMEAT.

Two traceability exercises have now been completed. The first CowCatcher exercise took place in 2004 and used both the old tail tag system as well as NLIS electronic tags. The majority of the cattle without NLIS identification in 2004 were not traced within the time frame set by the Standards and some were not able to be traced at all. This accounted for a 75 percent overall result during Cowcatcher 1. All of the cattle identified with an NLIS tag were traced promptly in 2004, starkly highlighting the difference in performance of the old system and the NLIS.

"The results of Cowcatcher 1 convinced a number of states to commit to the full implementation of the NLIS. The results of Cowcatcher II, conducted in May 2007, confirmed the wisdom of this decision," Mr Ware said.

The National Traceability Performance Standards require that within 24 hours for an animal of interest, that animal’s movements for the previous 30 days, and the current properties of residence of contact animals during that period, must be established. In addition, within 48 hours, that animal’s movements during its life, and the current properties of residence of all contact animals, must be established.

Mr Ware said that NLIS identified cattle were able to be promptly and reliably traced in both of the traceability exercises conducted in both 2004 and 2007.

"CowCatcher II has confirmed that the NLIS protects and enhances Australia’s reputation as a supplier of wholesome beef and dairy products."

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