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National Animal Identification System: Animal Identification Number (AIN)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is amending the regulations to recognize for official use the 15-character animal identification number (AIN), 13-character group/lot identification number, and 7-character premises identification number. Industry groups have the option of using the same animal identification numbers for programs they sponsor, such as for performance recording or breed registration.

Currently, many producers use separate identification numbers or methods for official animal health programs, interstate commerce purposes, and industry-sponsored programs. One cow, for example, could have as many as five different identification numbers, each associated with a different program (e.g., disease eradication program, herd improvement program, etc).

Various industry organizations have recommended, and USDA supports, moving towards a standardized numbering system that would allow one number to be used for all of these purposes. An animal would be identified with the same official number under multiple programs, instead of being identified with a different number under each program. The data associated with each program could still be maintained separately, however.

The new individual animal numbering system will allow producers to transition into the use of a "one number-one animal" system if they wish to do so. This numbering system will also be a key element in the national animal identification system (NAIS). Animal health officials will be able to trace animals more effectively during a disease response if all animals are identified in a uniform manner.

Only information necessary for animal health officials to be able to track suspect animals and identify any other animals that may have been exposed to a disease will be maintained in NAIS data repositories. Officials will not have access to proprietary production data collected by industry organizations.

AIN Format

The format for the AIN is 15 numeric characters, the first three reflecting the internationally recognized country code for the United States (840). The last 12 digits are a randomly assigned, unique number sequence.

Example: 840123456789012.

The AIN is sometimes referred to as the "840" number. USDA anticipates that the "840" number will be implemented in mid-2005. At that time, producers should be able to obtain batches of "840" numbers from AIN distributors to identify their animals.

NAIS Numbering Transition Period: Acceptable Alternatives to the "840" AIN

There are certain identification codes already available in the marketplace that are very similar to the AIN "840" configuration. These codes are now considered official if they have been imprinted on devices that meet USDA's official ID tag requirements (as defined in the Code of Federal Regulations).

Acceptable variants of the "840" number include the following:

  • A 15-digit sequence that begins with a 3-digit manufacturer code. Manufacturer codes are assigned by the International Committee for Animal Recording, and they currently range from 935 to 985. For example, the Destron manufacturer code is 985. The last 12 digits are a randomly assigned, unique number sequence.

    Example: 985123456789012

  • A 15-character alphanumeric sequence that begins with "USA." The last 12 digits are a randomly assigned, unique number sequence.

    Example: USA123456789012

  • *** It is important to note that other animal and premises numbering systems are already recognized by the regulations, such as the National Uniform Eartagging System. These systems will still be recognized by APHIS for purposes of official identification and will be incorporated into the NAIS during the transition period.***

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