June 2016

Industry Investments

CCIA Traceability Initiative Helps to Facilitate Automated Data Collection for Animal Movement


Recent innovation advancements in livestock traceability have helped industry to increase consumer confidence, food safety and market presence, both domestically and internationally. However, the most reliable and accurate automated readings correlate with sightings, which is a confirmation of an animal’s location at a particular time.

Animal movement, meanwhile, is generally conducted by industry members within the value chain through a multi-step manual reporting process for uploading data to the Canadian Livestock Tracking System (CLTS) database. Current trends and market conditions have led to an imminent need for automated livestock traceability, including movement data, and future Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) requirements will reflect that need.

Through an extensive project with support from the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA), the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA) aims to present a user-friendly and cost-effective method to help industry meet proposed livestock traceability reporting requirements. If successful, this project would serve as an important step towards the implementation of a fully-functional livestock traceability system in Canada.

“Automating traceability data collection supports industry in many ways. It increases the efficiency of data collection, along with the amount of data available,” said Michelle Normand, ALMA’s Senior Manager, Industry and Market Development. “As well, reliable data aids industry in responding effectively to emergencies.”

CCIA manages the CLTS database, which records information pertaining to animal identification, premises identification, animal movement and value-assurance data (eg. age verification) through radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. This project will examine the use of sighting events to synthesize movement data, with the goal of satisfying epidemiological requirements of livestock traceability.

“We plan to install data loggers on-farm and at intermediate sites where animals co-mingle, such as feedlots, to read real-time activity from these tags,” said Paul Laronde, CCIA Tag and Technology Manager. “Using a private data network, these readings are analyzed through an algorithm that creates a movement map using sighting data events. After analysis, this information is added to the CLTS database, which will help to enhance traceability data integrity and security, while decreasing costs and industry’s reporting burden.”

To develop the algorithm, CCIA will use an existing data set from current gold standard traceability data that includes movement and sighting information. A ghost reader system will determine the percentage of site readings necessary to create a movement log and the results will be compared with the actual data to ensure accuracy.

Additionally, CCIA plans to design a task-specific RFID reader that would deliver a one-button approach for tasks like birthdate, sightings and movement data reporting. These task-specific readers would sync all data to the CLTS database, and provide CLTS users with access to the information through a single-step data entry process.

Laronde believes this technology could become a valuable time-saver for industry members.

“Automated traceability helps assure producers they are following CFIA regulations and provides them with additional details about their animals. That means they can spend more time focusing on new opportunities and running a sustainable and efficient operation,” he says.