How tracing animals contributes to NZ's prosperity

Biosecurity doesn't just happen at the international border, but at your farm gate as well.

We manage the National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) and TBfree programmes which work together to:

  • trace the location of cattle and deer from birth to death
  • contain the spread of animal diseases and, in the case of bovine TB and Mycoplasma bovis, eradicate it.

Tracing farm animals throughout their lifetime means that if there is a biosecurity risk or a disease outbreak we can respond quickly and effectively. Doing this reduces the threat to your livelihood, and the time and money needed to trace and eliminate disease from infected livestock.

New Zealand is proud of its high food safety standards. If our customers know where their meat products come from and that they're safe to eat or use, we can often get better prices for our products and sell them to a wider market. This is sometimes called farm to fork.

About NAIT and TBfree

The NAIT scheme links people, locations and livestock. Farmers and livestock owners use NAIT's online system to record information about animals and their movements. This information can be used to manage, contain and recover quickly from a disease outbreak.

TBfree is a nationwide programme that manages and contains bovine TB infections in cattle and deer by:

  • undertaking a programme of pest control aimed at eradicating TB from possums that can spread TB to cattle and deer
  • testing cattle and deer for TB on farms, and
  • inspecting meat at slaughter houses.

The programmes are paid for through a contribution from the Government and levies. You pay levies when you:

  • buy tags for your animals
  • when they are slaughtered, and
  • if you're a dairy farmer, when you produce milk solids.

Your role in NAIT and TBfree

If you look after the daily needs of cattle or deer, you're a Person in Charge of Animals (PICA), and legally you must take part in the NAIT and TBfree schemes. This means registering and maintaining details about you, your farm and your animals. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) enforces the NAIT and Biosecurity Acts. If you don't comply, you can face fines or prosecution.

Register yourself

As a PICA you must register with NAIT and TBfree, and keep your records up to date. You must also register all the properties where you keep animals — this is called a NAIT location and is assigned a unique NAIT location number.

Register your property

You need to keep information about yourself, your location and the animals you are in charge of up to date.

Tag and register cattle and deer

Nearly all cattle and deer must be tagged and registered in the NAIT system. Some exemptions exist for:

  • calves sent direct to slaughter
  • fallow deer
  • animals born at a game estate, safari park, or zoo
  • animals that are too dangerous to tag. 

Registration happens after the animals are tagged, when you link the animal's birth information to the tag number in your NAIT account.

Step 1 — tag your animals

Before you register the animals you look after, you must tag each one with a NAIT tag. You must apply the tag within 180 days of an animal's birth or before it leaves your farm — whichever comes first. This becomes the main way to identify an individual animal throughout its life.

Step 2 — register your animals

After they're tagged, you must register your animals in NAIT within 7 days or before you move them off your property — whichever comes first. By registering them in NAIT, you activate their tag so they can be traced.

Some cattle and deer don't need to be tagged and registered.

Declare other animals on your property

If you keep cattle or deer, once a year you also need to declare other farm animals on your property that could spread disease between species.

Keep animal information up to date

After you've tagged and registered your animals you need to record in NAIT:

  • every time they move on to or off your farm
  • when you bring new animals on to your property
  • if they lose or damage their tag and it needs to be replaced
  • if any are dead, missing or have been exported.

Keep account information up to date

You also need to keep information about yourself, your location and anyone who has access to your NAIT account up to date.

Undergo testing for TB

We test your animals for bovine TB from time to time as part of our TBfree programme.

Record animals movements on and off your farm

Every time cattle or deer arrive at or leave your property, you must record a movement for those animals in NAIT. Movements identify the farms and locations that individual animals have been at throughout their lifetime, and other animals they may have come into contact with.

When animals leave your property you must also complete an Animal Status Declaration (ASD) form to pass on important animal health and disease information to the receiver. This means we can trace all the places each animal has been if there's a disease outbreak.

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PICA farmer responsibilities


Read transcript for this video
There are 5 core steps that all PICA farmers must undertake to meet their NAIT requirements.

1.Register with NAIT. If you're the person most involved with the day-to-day management of cattle or deer, you must register in the NAIT online system as a PICA farmer even if you only have one animal.

2. Register your location. Once you are registered as a PICA farmer, you must register all the locations where you are in charge of NAIT animals. Each registered premise will be assigned a unique NAIT number. This is known as a NAIT location and identifies where your animals are.

3. Tag and register your animals. All cattle and deer must be tagged with a NAIT-approved RFID tag and registered in the NAIT online system within 6 months of birth or before they move off-farm - whichever comes first.

4. Record and confirm animal movements. As a PICA farmer, you're responsible for ensuring all movements of NAIT animals onto and off your registered location are recorded in the NAIT online system within 48 hours of the movement occurring. Both the sending and receiving PICA have an obligation to record and confirm an animal movement in the NAIT online system - the exception being if a farmer sends livestock to an accredited entity operating as a meat processor or saleyard. In this case the accredited entity is responsible for recording the movement on behalf of the sending PICA farmer.

5. Keep your NAIT account up to date. It is also your responsibility as a PICA farmer to ensure all information entered in the NAIT online system is correct and updated as required. This includes declaration of livestock death, loss or intended export of NAIT animals, and personal details and contact information.
For more information or to request a PICA change application form, go to our website or call 0800 482 463.

How is bovine TB spread?


Read transcript for this video
Here's an important message for farmers from OSPRI. As usual we'll get straight into it.

Okay - we all know bovine TB is an infectious disease. Infected possums come out of the bush and on to the farms to cark it and then cattle and deer catch TB when they get up close to see what the fuss is about. And once an animal in your herd is infected, TB can spread quickly to other animals and to other herds. TB spreads between cattle or deer when they're packed closely together like around milking sheds or around feeders. If it's not spotted early, one crook animal can get carted off to another farm anywhere in the country and infect the whole herd.

While the TBFree progragramme works to get rid of TB and keep it clear of our herds, NAIT tracks animal movements around the country. NAIT helps track the spread of diseases like TB and finds the source of the infection before it takes off. These programmes work side by side to give TB the boot. When you use NAIT, you're helping to protect your animals and our livelihood.

Need a hand with NAIT or TBFree? Give OSPRI a shout on 0800 482 463.