Branding no longer essential for bison heading to U.S.

Canadian bison no longer need to be branded before export to the United States for breeding or feeding.

Effective April 8, bison need a radio frequency identification tag and an accompanying dangle tag with the same number. Alternatively, they can have an RFID tag and a tattoo, although few bison producers tattoo their animals.

Loss of the branding requirement is welcome news, said Canadian Bison Association executive director Terry Kremeniuk.

“There’s always concern about the animal when you put a brand on it,” he said. “We know they are wild animals and any time you can handle them less, it’s good for the animal, it’s good for the handlers and it’s good for the industry.”

The branding requirement was imposed following the discovery of BSE in Canada. After the U.S. border re-opened to bison, animals had to have the CAN brand.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently agreed to eliminate that requirement in favour of tagging.

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Required tags for bison can only be bought from the CBA. A news release from that organization advised that if bison destined for the U.S. have already been tagged, they will require a CAN brand or a pre-printed visual tag.

In the future, Canadian producers planning to export feeders or breeding stock are advised to consider dual tagging.

Kremeniuk said different U.S. states have different identification requirements so it is important to check before shipping animals.

Bison going to the U.S. for slaughter require only an RFID tag. That re-quirement has not changed, Kremeniuk said.

Regulations have also eased on bison coming into Canada from the U.S. Inspection agencies in both countries have agreed that American bison entering Canada no longer have to be quarantined and retested for disease upon arrival.

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However, the animals must have health certificates completed before their arrival in Canada and must have National Animal Identification System RFID tags and a second tag with the same number.

“In the past there was a requirement to quarantine the animals coming into Canada and now that’s not required,” said Kremeniuk.

“The testing is done in the U.S. There did not appear to be a need, based on a risk assessment by CFIA. The Canadians have accepted the protocol and the tests that are done in the U.S.”

Relatively few bison are moving into Canada due to the exchange rate on the dollar. However, eased restrictions on quarantine and testing could allow easier exchange of breeding stock for enhanced genetics.

Contact barb.glen@producer.com

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