If you've raised animals under a rock the last couple of years and have yet to obtain a premises identification number for your farm, you may want to strongly consider doing so, even though the original deadline to register is more than a year past. The Indiana Board of Animal Health recently reaffirmed its commitment to the importance of premise identification numbers in Indiana.
In fact, Brett Marsh, state veterinarian and head of BOAH, named the premise identification program as one reason why BOAH felt comfortable dropping the vet inspection and resulting health papers requirement for animals for exhibition a year ago. BOAH left it up to the counties and based on a recent survey, counties overwhelmingly opted not to require health papers for fairs in '07. Of 84 counties responding to a recent BOAH survey, only 15 did require them in '07. At least one of those counties has already indicated it will likely not require papers in '08 for animals exhibiting at the 4-H fair.
The requirement was also dropped because Indiana reached a state with pseudorabies control in Indiana where blood testing was no longer necessary. That requirement was dropped first, after which the requirement to have vets even visit farms at all and file health papers was made optional for '07, and remains the same for '08. Marsh believes eliminating the requirement save 40-H families in counties not requiring papers significant cost, since vets must charge for the visit and inspection. Such visits are also of limited value, he believes, since they're only as good as what the vet can see about an animal's condition on the day he visits the premises.
A few counties opted not to require papers, but to have a vet on the scene when animals were unloaded. At least one county charged a nominal fee to exhibitors to cover the cost of hiring the vet to be on hand to visually inspect animals upon arrival a the fair.
Registering all Indiana livestock premises remains a priority for BOAH, even for equine and poultry. Registration is still currently voluntary for those species. BOAH reports that to date, 31,683 sites have been reported and received a premise identification number. Obviously, many of those represent locations where 4-H animals may be raised only for part of the year.
The value of the premise program, supporters contend, is that should a serious disease outbreak occur, officials in charge of responding could identify very quickly where animals are located. That would be an essential part of limiting the spread of the disease.
Of the sites registered so far, 22,414 are for cattle, 5,130 for goats, 9,537 for swine, and 4,440 for sheep. Since some farms have more than one species, the numbers will add to more than the total number of sites reported.