NAIT can help when you’re buying stock


By Miles Anderson, Federated Farmers Meat & Wool Chairperson

Mycoplasmas bovis has put cattle farmers around the nation on high alert, and in particular there is now intense scrutiny around any animals coming onto their property.

So it’s not hard to imagine the dismay of some beef farmers in Northland who recently discovered that hundreds of 100kg calves they’d purchased on the understanding they were from the Waikato were apparently not born there, and in fact were from Southland.  It appears at least some of the calves had only been in the Waikato for a few days.

The farmers were tipped off by the fact that the calves were coming down with Theileria when, had they been born and raised in the Waikato, a greater degree of immunity to the blood disease could have been expected.

Under the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) programme cattle need to be tagged with an approved ear tag before they are six months old or before they move off the farm – whichever is soonest.

The ability for lifetime traceability of animals is a core purpose of the NAIT system and outlined in the 2012 NAIT Act. There is a recommendation in the NAIT review to remove any statutory barriers preventing this function from being carried out.

In the meantime, it has become apparent many farmers don’t realise the existing NAIT set-up allows them to see all of the movements of an animal throughout its life and the area in which these took place but not the identity of the specific property the animal was on, or the name of the owner.  To get this area data, search an animal using its RFID or NAIT visual ID number on the NAIT home page.

These number can be requested as part of your due diligence when purchasing animals or taking on grazers.

It provides useful clues on whether a seller or agent is being completely upfront and, for example, such a check would have allowed the Northland farmers to discover the calves they intended purchasing were from Southland, not the Waikato.

Of course the system is only as good as the information in it so nothing less than 100% compliance is good enough.  We all need to make sure those we deal with are compliant for the benefit of all of us.

If you need help getting up to date with NAIT or using this feature ring the NAIT helpdesk on 0800 482 463 or ask a fellow farmer.