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New efforts to prevent the spread of disease

There's a new way of tracking disease in cattle from a package of beef back to where it came from.

Area ranchers will now put a permanent identification number on their cattle. The Texas Animal Health Commission says this is a state wide effort to track cattle in the event a disease is found.

Texas Animal Health Commission Region 1 Director David Finch says, "We may trace it back to a herd. Test that herd. See if there are any additional animals that have been either exposed or actually have the disease." The cow may then either have movement restrictions for two weeks, be sent to slaughter, or euthanized.

There are several cases of TB or Brucellosis every year in the panhandle. If a carcass tests positive at a meat packing plant, Texas ArgriLIFE Potter County Extension Agent Brandon Boughen says, "We need to go back. We need to check that original owner's property to make sure there's no other infected cattle. Then they can do that easily to where they don't have to shut the entire supply of beef cattle down in the entire plant because of one carcass or because of one animal."

Adult cattle 18 months and older will be required to have IDs like USDA metal tags, brucellosis calfhood vaccination tags, and breed registration tattoos or firebrands. Boughen says, "That form of identification. It may not be the tag itself, physically. But it would be the identification number on the tag that follows that carcass all the way until pretty much it gets to the point of sale."

Boughen says it will help them be efficient in a case like the a mad cow outbreak. He says, "They had to quarantine all of the cattle before they could find the point source of where that animal came from. So this makes that length of time shorter. And it's not going to back up our beef supply for weeks on end."

Thousands of free tags are available at some area vet clinics, local Texas Agrilife Extension, and Texas Animal Health Commission offices.

Jessica Abuchaibe, NewsChannel 10

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