Ask The Vet

State Import Rules Guide For Livestock

Image by Chris Clayton

Q: We ship cattle to different states several times a year, and it’s getting harder and harder to know what the testing requirements are in advance and what is an official ID. All the states are different, and they seem to change all the time. Why can’t we come up with one set of rules for all states?

A: I feel your pain. States’ livestock rules to protect against disease can vary widely and are based on the unique needs of that industry and the people there. Identification is an especially challenging issue because we have no mandatory national system. (By the way, that fact scares the willies out of me when I think about some sort of foreign disease outbreak. But, that is a discussion for another day.)

There is a good web site hosted by the United States Animal Health Association and the National Institute for Animal Agriculture: This gives you “quick, accurate access to state import requirements for livestock.” It’s easy to use and a great new tool.

With regards to a universally accepted ID for cattle, the only ones we currently have use the office of USDA metal tags (silver “brite” tags or the OCV/Bangs orange tags), or the official “840 tag.” Some states accept tattoos and brands under certain conditions.

The 840 tags are commercially available and comply with the requirements of Animal Disease Traceability (ADT). They require a premises ID number at purchase. Each tag contains 15 digits, beginning with the numbers 840 (the USA country code). The remaining 12 digits on the tag are unique to the individual animal. These tags come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors, and can be visual (EID) or electronic (RFID).

Q: We have a dog that gets very itchy every spring. We never see any fleas on her, and the other dogs don’t scratch. I hear there is a new shot for itching in dogs that lasts a month. We have used steroids in the past, but she has accidents in the house when she is on them. I am interested in trying something new.

A: There are two new products that make treatment of allergies in dogs better and safer. Apoquel is a pill that blocks the itch mediators in the skin. Cytopoint, also known as CADI, is a monoclonal antibody that also blocks an itch mediator in the skin. CADI is an injection and can last for a month or more. Both have been wonderful tools for us in our practice.

Neither of these products are a cure for allergies; neither will work in all cases. Fleas and dry, infected skin must be well controlled for them to be effective. In a comprehensive allergy treatment program, however, Apoquel and Cytopoint will help your dogs live healthier, happier and, possibly, even longer lives.

I would urge you to make an appointment to see your veterinarian as soon as your dog starts itching. Your pet will thank you for it.

Readers Talk Back:

In an earlier issue you talked about cud chewing, and it got me thinking that I need to be more observant to spot sick cows earlier. What are some other things I should look for that will help me pick out sick cows and calves so I can treat them early? – Alabama cattleman

I don’t usually do this, but I’m going to answer your question with a question to the readers.

It’s true, I’ve been around cows all my life, and I have my own list of things I notice that make me think a cow might not be feeling her best. But, what I really want to do here is learn from all of the experience our readers have.

So, readers, send me a letter or an email, and tell me the first things you notice when a cow or a calf isn’t well. We’ll share your experiences in a future column. And, at the end of the day, we will all learn something.

Please contact your veterinarian for questions pertaining to the health of your herd. Every operation is unique, and the information in this column does not pertain to all situations. This is not intended as medical advice, but is purely for informational purposes.

Write Dr. Ken McMillan at Ask The Vet, 2204 Lakeshore Dr., Suite 415, Birmingham, AL 35209, or email


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