Traceability: Beef Cattle

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Traceability is a crucial component of an effective animal health and food safety system that enables precise and rapid emergency response to protect livestock, producers and consumers. Determining where livestock are, where they have been and what other livestock they have come into contact with allows for efficient emergency planning and response. Traceability in Alberta relies on the three fundamental pillars of premises identification, animal identification and animal movement.

For an overview of the beef cattle industry, click here.

Click here to print this checklist
Cattle Owner's Checklist of Traceability Requirements

o Register and receive a PID number -click here to register or to log in

o Register any information changes in the PID system within 30 days

o Tag each animal with an approved CCIA RFID tag –click here for tips

o Age verify calves before 10 months of age or before leaving farm of origin

o Complete transportation documentation as required

o Record PID number on Alberta Livestock Manifest when transporting cattle

o Maintain records for 10 years

Applicable Traceability Legislation and Regulations:
Better Management Practices

o Registration of all livestock premises in the PID system

o Keeping CCIA account and PID number handy

o Cross-reference management tags and CCIA tags

o Printing CCIA cattle birth certificates for auction marts/buyers

o Accurate record keeping including sire, dam and medications

o Adoption of biosecurity measures

Premises Identification

Premises Identification (PID), one of the three traceability pillars, is a way of linking livestock and poultry to land locations. The information collected through the Alberta Agriculture and Forestry (AF) Premises Identification System allows industry and government to locate animals more quickly and accurately to confine a disease outbreak or emergency such as a flood or fire. Animal owners can be notified if an emergency might affect their animals and operation but this can only be accomplished if land locations are registered in the Premises Identification System.

Under Alberta’s Premises Identification Regulation, if you own a livestock animal or poultry, and that animal is kept at a premises other than a commingling site (e.g. stable), you need to apply for a PID Account and obtain at least one PID Number associated to where the animal(s) are located. You must apply for a PID Account within 30 days of assuming ownership of an animal. If you own an animal that is only kept at locations controlled by someone else (e.g. stable) and that animal will never be kept at a premises under your care and control (e.g. farm or acreage), you are not required to register for a PID Account. However, you will need to obtain the PID Number from the operator of the site.

Although only the primary agricultural operation (e.g. home quarter) needs to be registered in the PID System, registering other locations that are not connected to the home quarter will ensure that your operation is better protected. Although you may view your livestock as a pet or companion animal, it is important to obtain a PID Account because your animal can still receive and/or transmit diseases. To find out the species of animals included under the regulation, click here. Even if you only own one animal, it is still necessary to obtain a PID Account.

If you operate a commingling site (e.g. stable, community pasture, fair ground, etc.), you are required to obtain a PID Account, register all your commingling sites and provide the PID Number(s) to the users of your site(s). You must apply for a PID Account within 30 days of assuming ownership or operation of a commingling site.

How to apply and update your account

To apply for a PID Account or to access/update it online:Click here
To apply for a PID Account or to update it by paper application:

(PID paper application forms are also available at AF Field Offices located throughout Alberta.)

Click here

Registering your premises is one of the best ways to safeguard your animals and it’s free. It is important that you keep your information up to date and you must report account changes within 30 days. For example, this would include changes in account contact information, maximum capacity of the premises and contact information for emergencies. If the PID System does not contain accurate and up-to-date information, the emergency response might be delayed.

Animal owners will need to have a PID Number to:

  • Buy medication for your animals at retail outlets (this requirement took effect on July 1, 2014 as part of amendments to the Animal Health Act)
  • Complete movement documents such as manifest and permits, if required, when transporting your animals
  • Sell livestock at auction markets
  • Apply for many government sponsored agriculture grants and programs
For additional information on the PID Program:
Important note: Information must be kept up to date so that you can be contacted quickly in the event of an emergency.

Animal Identification

Animal Identification, for cattle, is the ability to identify individual animals. Animal identification works with the other pillars of traceability, premises identification and animal movement, to track where animals have been transported and when. Animal identification helps industry and government to locate animals to confine a disease outbreak more quickly and accurately.

Under Alberta's Traceability Cattle Identification Regulation, which supports Canadian requirements, all cattle born on or after January 1, 2009 must be identified with an approved Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA) Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag before 10 months of age or before leaving the farm of origin (whichever occurs first). Tags for beef cattle can be purchased at an approved local tag dealer.

Here are some factsheets on RFID ear tags:

Photo by:Lee Gunderson
Cattle cannot be moved from your farm without a CCIA tag unless you are taking them to an approved tagging site (local auction markets are often approved tagging sites but be sure to call and check). If one or more of your cattle lose their original CCIA tag, you need to reapply a new CCIA tag as soon as possible and before moving cattle from your farm to other locations. When you retag cattle, you must record and report the date, new tag number and if possible the old tag number to the Canadian Livestock Tracking System (CLTS ) within 30 days. It is good practice to carry extra CCIA tags with you in case your cattle lose their tags during transportation.

The issue of tag retention is taken very seriously by the CCIA and they are working on behalf of the industry to address this issue. The Approved Indicator Quality Control form has been developed to record retention issues and is available on the CCIA website.

For more information on cattle identification or tagging, visit CCIA’s website at or call 1-877-909-BEEF (2333). To learn more about animal identification service providers, please visit

Age Verification
Age verification is a requirement in Alberta for cattle born on or after January 1, 2009. Age verification is linking an individual animal’s birth date information to an RFID tag number. Many export markets require cattle to be age verified to meet food safety requirements; age verifying supports cattle eligibility for export to international markets.

Under Alberta's Traceability Cattle Identification Regulation, cattle born in Alberta in 2009, or later, need to be age verified in the CCIA database called the Canadian Livestock Tracking System (CLTS) before 10 months of age or before leaving the farm of origin (whichever occurs first). For more information on age verification, visit the CCIA website at Visit to learn about service providers that can assist you with age verification.

Important note: Age verification records need to be kept for 10 years.

Animal Movement

Animal Movement is the act of tracing livestock and poultry backwards or forwards through the production supply chain based on animal movement records. Movement records are vital because the faster we can locate where livestock has been, the more effectively we can determine which livestock are at risk of being affected by the disease.

In Alberta, all cattle must be identified by an approved CCIA RFID tag applied to the animal before it is moved from its farm of origin or before 10 months of age (whichever occurs first). Alberta’s delegated authority, Livestock Identification Services Ltd. (LIS), is responsible for all transportation documentation for cattle under the Livestock Identification and Commerce Act (LICA). Subject to a few exceptions under LICA, an Alberta Livestock Manifest is required to transport or drive cattle within Alberta and to inspection sites (livestock markets, livestock assembly stations, feedlots, abattoirs, and country sale sites). For information on how to fill out an Alberta Livestock Manifest, click here.

Cattle owners require an LIS Livestock Permit to document the movement of cattle outside of the province as well as when leaving an inspection site. LIS Special Permits are used to transport cattle more than once in a calendar year, both within and outside of Alberta. Movement outside of the country also requires a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) export permit.
To learn more about transporting Alberta cattle, click here.

For more information on movement requirements, contact LIS at or call 1-866-509-2088. Also, visit to learn about service providers that can assist you with animal movement requirements.
Important note: Movement records need to be kept for 10 years.

As an important member of the beef industry, you play a key role in the traceability system for livestock in Alberta and Canada. Accurate and current information supporting premises identification, cattle identification and movement is crucial to a robust traceability system. Please take care to ensure that information associated with your animals is accurate and that information supporting traceability is documented.

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For more information about the content of this document, contact Katherine Altman.
This information published to the web on October 15, 2012.
Last Reviewed/Revised on January 16, 2019.