Cattle Identification

Below is information regarding identification requirements for cattle under the USDA Animal Disease Traceability (ADT) program. The ADT program defines official animal identification and sets the recording requirements for the interstate movement of animals. Animals which would otherwise require identification may go directly to an approved tagging site without having any identification present. They may also go directly to an approved slaughter facility, to be slaughtered within 3 days, with a USDA-approved backtag in lieu of other identification.

The following groups of cattle are required to display individual, official identification when being recorded on any federal form or moving interstate:

  • All dairy cattle, of any age
  • All cattle moving interstate for shows or rodeos
  • All intact beef cattle 18 months of age or older

These animals must always have individual, official identification listed on their Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI)*

Official Identification Methods

  • 840-RFID Tag:
Image showing partial 840 RFID button tags.
  • USDA Orange (vaccination) Tag:
Image showing an orange metal vaccination and identification tag for cattle copyright USDA
Image from USDA
  • USDA Silver Tag:
Image showing an silver metal identification tag for cattle copyright USDA

Image from USDA

These are the only identification methods considered official.  Other identification types, such as trichomoniasis testing tags, freeze brands, registration tattoos, farm/ranch tags or RFIDs using numbers beginning with anything other than 840 are not considered official identification.

Idaho has brand agreements with most bordering states which address the listing of identification for beef breed cattle, except for those moving for participation in rodeos or shows.  Beef breed cattle 18 months of age or older may move on a CVI without listing individual identification if they meet the following criteria:
  • All animals on the CVI still must display individual, official identification.
  • All animals on the CVI must have a common brand, registered with the state brand authority.
  • The common brand must be drawn on the CVI.
  • The CVI must have the following statement: “All animals on this CVI have individual, official identification.”
This exception only applies to animals moving into or out of Nevada, Oregon, Utah, or Wyoming.
If you are a veterinarian needing to order tags, RFIDs can be ordered through any ear tag distributor. If you have any other questions regarding identification requirements, please contact us.
*Non-intact dairy breed cattle (steers, freemartins, spayed heifers) require official identification to cross state lines. They do not need the identification listed on their CVI, however the CVI does need to state that the animals have individual, official identification present.

USDA ADT Program

Animal Disease Traceability program under USDA.

If you have questions regarding brand inspections for animals entering Idaho, contact the Idaho Brand Board at 
(208) 884-7070.

Information regarding USDA-approved slaughter facilities.