A new electronic tag capable of delivering transparency and trust in the birth dates of livestock could be available thanks to council members of the Limousin Cattle Society and NSF International - the company providing assurance and certification services on a global level.

NSF VerifyTM which has been developed for breed societies to improve the integrity and authenticity of their pure-bred stock, has the potential to provide a 100% verifiable and immutable record of the journey an animal has made from birth on farm right through to slaughter.

The system benefits farmers and societies as not only does it identify the birth of an animal, it also records the farm holding and owner, through geofenced location verification, a DNA sample and photograph at the point of tagging. This gives an irrefutable unique animal identification ID that establishes trust from birth.

Add to that a central record management system via a secure blockchain-enabled platform that provides an incorruptible inventory of events and transactions during an animal’s life and slaughter, and there is complete transparency throughout the life of the animal when integrated with national government systems such as BCMS and APHIS.

Jonathan Watson who owns the Tweeddale herd at Bowsden Moor, has trialled the system over the past few months and is most impressed by it.

“All cattle have to be tagged as it is and this new system which verifies the sire and the dam of a new calf born via a scanner on a mobile phone app and with a photograph showing the date of tagging means any future problems around birthdate notifications will be stamped out in future,” he said.

“It’s easy enough to operate, and although more work is needed, I would encourage members to go with it,” said Mr Watson.

Scottish council member, Willie Lawson, Auchterarder, was equally hopeful this new system would help provide a level playing field for breeders, while also reducing the cost of registrations.

“Cost is a big concern for producers and this system will not only tighten up pedigrees and birth date notifications, but it will also be a lot cheaper for producers,” he said.

“The system verifies birthdates and the DNA of both the sire and the dam, which has to be better than what we have at present. DNA results will also be processed far quicker with this system, with parentage verified within seven days.

“I have spoken to a lot of people about the system and everyone seems positive about it,” added Mr Lawson, pointing out that NSF are also able to carry out independent inspections cheaper than the society is able to at present.

Richard Bartle, national representative, is confident there will be a huge appetite for the system across all breeds too.

“We have to stop looking at the past and look to the future and this system will be easier and cheaper for members at £10 per head for DNA analysis to include myostatin recording. In the long term, it should also rule out the need for herd inspections too,” said Mr Bartle.