Mission Cow ID: Ear-tagging of bovines in full swing
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Mission Cow ID: Ear-tagging of bovines in full swing

March 13, 2020

‘Cow Aadhaar’ identifies animals and builds a database with vital details, unique to each animal

By S.T. Ravikumar

Mysore/Mysuru: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Government’s liking for cows is no secret. Bovine protection is one of the Government’s most important topics of public discourse in the country over the past couple of years.

In this context, crores of rupees have been set aside to give Unique Identity (UID) cards to cows and buffaloes through ear-tagging. Interestingly, this biometric-based unique ID too is a 12-digit one like our Aadhaar Card that has been made mandatory for all bovine, for identification purposes. 

The purpose of the ID cards, as per Modi’s vision, launched under ‘Information Network For Animal Productivity and Health’ (INAPH) is to tag and track cattle so that they are vaccinated on time to prevent diseases like the fatal foot-and-mouth disease and scientific intervention is made available for better breeding and increasing milk production, doubling income of dairy farmers in the process by 2022.

Better bovine management

The project is to keep track of the nation’s cattle, protect them from smuggling gangs, help taking care of abandoned animals and management of cow shelters, among others. “The programme aims to improve breeding and milk production, and double the industry’s income,” said Dr. S.C. Suresh, Assistant Director of Animal Husbandry Department, Mysuru, who is also working on the National Mission on Bovine Productivity Scheme.

The unique IDs for cows would aid in tracking the breeds better and help in cross-breeding, by readily making available information on the cattle’s age, genes, breed, sex, lactation, height, body, colour, horn type, tail switch and special marks.

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As part of the programme, officials from the Animal Husbandry Department have fanned out across the district armed with tablets and a single mission — to affix a tag with the 12-digit unique identification number inside an ear of each of the cows and buffaloes. 

70,000 cows and buffaloes in Mysuru 

The officials have been trained to affix a polyurethane tag inside the ears of the cattle with a tag. There are over 70,000 cows and buffaloes in Mysuru Taluk itself and IDs for over 35,000 cattle heads have been issued and ear-tagged. 

Mysuru district has eight Taluks including Periyapatna, Hunsur, K.R. Nagar, Mysuru, H.D. Kote, Nanjangud, Saragur and T. Narasipur. Even if one takes a conservative estimate of 50,000 cows and buffaloes per taluk, the total number goes up to a staggering 4,00,000 — a massive exercise to ear-tag all the cattle heads. Dr. Suresh said that they have set a target of Mar. 15 to complete the ear-tagging process. 

Tag-affixing process

The tag is tamper-proof, cannot be opened by a wrench and is designed to last for years. Affixing the tag is a meticulous job, an official said, explaining that the yellow-coloured tag with two parts has to be fixed with the help of a tool in the centre of the ear lobe. The tag made from thermoplastic polyurethane elastomer weighs just eight grams to cause minimum inconvenience to the animal.

Online data

Once the tag is fixed, the official will use a tablet to update the number in an online database and also provide the cattle owner with an ‘animal health card’ recording the UID number, owner’s details, status of periodic de-worming and vaccinations of the animal as well as breeding details. This will help track the cattle along with all relevant details.

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Once the project is completed, the database will be uploaded into national network helping the Union Ministry to frame policies. Even routine processes like loan sanction, compensation to animal deaths will depend on the data provided in the unique identity card. No loans will be sanctioned and no compensation will be provided in case of cattle deaths if the animal is not ear-tagged.

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