Illegal to buy or sell cattle without NAITS ear tag – senior veterinary officer

JAMAICANS are reminded that it is illegal to buy, sell or slaughter cattle which are not affixed with the National Animal Identification and Traceability System (NAITS) ear tags.

The system aims to strengthen food safety by enhancing animal disease surveillance, and supports the development of a modern livestock sector aligned with international standards.

Stakeholders involved in cattle rearing, including butchers, health inspectors and cattle owners, who are found in breach of the NAITS 2015 Regulations on the marking of bovine animals will be subject to fines or imprisonment, under the law.

Senior veterinary officer at the Veterinary Services Division (VSD), Dr Ikolyn Ricketts Gayle said it is crucial for stakeholders to see the value in the system and to comply.

“The Government of Jamaica, through the VSD of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, implemented the NAITS with a view to enhancing the traceability of animals and products of animal origin to safeguard animal health. The NAITS is a mandatory system and this has to be so in order to have full control over the traceability of animals,” she said.

The main components of NAITS are the registration of bovine animals and establishments, identification of the animals, and the recording of data. This involves the use of a visual ear tag and a movement document referred to as the Cattle Passport.

Dr Ricketts Gayle also said the NAITS works to capture animal birth, movement, slaughter and death – all in a single database.

“One of the unique things about this system is that the exact number that you see on the passport is also displayed on the ear tag, so it’s two systems working together – you have the visual ear tag placed in the ears and you have the passport. So together, these work hand in hand to identify the animal,” she noted.

Meanwhile, owners of cattle in Jamaica are being reminded that they should register for the National Animal Identification and Traceability System (NAITS) if they have not already done so.

Dr Ricketts Gayle said so far, more than 1,200 establishments have also been registered since the inception of the NAITS.

“The system is not without responsibility from the keepers of cattle; they have to play their part as well to keep the system functional and active. It is, therefore, the owner’s responsibility to ensure that their cattle are actually registered. So, they need to take the initiative and contact the Veterinary Services Division to say, ‘I have one or two heads of cattle or I have 100 heads of cattle that need to be identified,’ ” she said.

Persons can contact the VSD at 876-977-2489 or visit the head office on Old Hope Road, Kingston.