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Helmut Schmidt, Published November 11 2010

Ruling aids West Fargo auction firm

A West Fargo cattle auction firm now provides ear-tagging identification services for cattle from Minnesota, thanks to a recent ruling by the North Dakota Board of Animal Health.

The ruling makes it easier for producers who don’t have the facilities on their farms or ranches to properly identify their animals inexpensively before they are shipped to other states, says Mike Hilde, the branch manager for Central Livestock Association.

That helps maintain Central Livestock, an auction market for feeder cattle, as an attractive option for local producers, he said.

Calves are brought to the market and sold to producers who raise them for eventual slaughter, he said.

Being able to do identification at Central Livestock makes it less likely local cattle will be sold in other states with less restrictive rules for tracking animal origin, Hilde said.

State Veterinarian Dr. Susan Keller said that normally animals must be identified before they are brought into North Dakota.

However, the State Board of Animal Health was assured the cattle would be inspected by a veterinarian, given a certificate of veterinary inspection, and properly identified with Minnesota tags before they are commingled with other animals and sold.

The arrangement was also approved by the Minnesota state veterinarian, she said.

Keller said IDing each animal is important in case it shows up diseased later. That way, authorities can quickly determine the herd the animal came from, and other animals contacted, to minimize the spread of diseases, such as bovine tuberculosis.

“You need to be able to do that quickly, and efficiently and with some clarity,” she said, otherwise, you’re “checking 50 herds rather than five. It makes a big difference.”

In 2005, Minnesota lost its tuberculosis-free status for cattle. Over time, most of the state regained TB-free status.

The northwest corner, however, has modified accredited advanced status, a step below being declared tuberculosis free.

North Dakota has been TB free for many years, Hilde said.

Hilde said the service is only for producers who can’t do the identifications.

“It’s not wide open business as usual, but it’s a step in the right direction,” Hilde said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583