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Livestock movements, identification and tracing: Cattle Tracing System

Cattle tracing is an integral part of the Government’s efforts to improve consumer confidence in British beef. A computerised Cattle Tracing System (CTS) was launched in Great Britain on 28 September 1998. There was already such a system in Northern Ireland. There was a European Union requirement for all EU Member States to have computerised tracing systems by the end of 1999.

What is CTS all about?

The Cattle Tracing System (CTS) is a computer based system to register cattle in Great Britain, and is the fourth element in a comprehensive system of cattle identification and registration. Data relating to where cattle are kept is recorded by the Government so that the animals can be traced for a variety of reasons, including animal disease.

CTS records the identification and death of cattle, the movements from birth to death of cattle issued with passports from 28 September 1998, and the movements of older cattle since 29 January 2001. Cattle keepers can now register new calves, report movements and check information held on their cattle on the CTS through the CTS website.

CTS makes it possible for Defra/BCMS to:

  • check which animals are present on a holding
  • check where an animal has been during its life
  • trace animals exposed to a disease risk
  • give assurances to buyers about an animal’s life history, and so
  • strengthen consumer confidence in beef

During the autumn of 2000, an exercise was carried out to register cattle born or imported before 1 July 1996 on CTS and to confirm the location of cattle born between 1 July 1996 and 27 September 1998 (cattle with blue-green passports). This exercise was known as "Cattle Count 2000".

Who runs CTS?

CTS is run the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS), based in Workington, Cumbria. The BCMS is part of the Department for Environment,Food & Rural Affairs (Defra).

Who pays for CTS?

The Government has paid for setting up the CTS, and for running it during its first  year of operation. This represents a total benefit to the industry of around 36 million. The Government had planned to recover the costs of running the CTS from industry from September 1999. However, in view of the depressed state of the market, the Minister announced on 20 September that the Government would meet the CTS costs itself.

Further information

Page last modified: 30 November, 2007
Page published: 12 February, 2007