Hierarchy of Movement
Description of the Hierarchy of Movement Concept -- As of May 1, 2023
Livestock traceability data is comprised primarily of three basic elements: animal identification (animal ID -- unique identifiers applied to animals); premises identification (PID -- unique identifiers corresponding to parcels of land); and, movement reporting (reporting of animal ID and PID to record the history of movements of animals from one location to another).
Traceability in Canada today (outside of Québec) focuses on the birth or import of the animal and the slaughter or export of the animal. The information in between is largely provided voluntarily, or through provincial regulations (e.g. Québec has full individual animal reporting at all sites for provincially regulated species). Industry and governments are working on the development and implementation of Federal traceability regulations to fill the current gaps and provide, among other things, movement reporting throughout the entire life of the animal.
The current traceability regulatory proposal has a mix of individual animal reporting at some sites (the gold standard) and group/lot movement reporting at others (no individual animal ID numbers are reported -- only the number of animals transported). It is suggested that the introduction of group/lot movement would not allow for enough data accuracy/completeness to be able to know definitively if an animal was or was not at a suspect location (e.g. a location that may have a disease present). In addition, the installation of tag reading equipment to meet the "gold standard" at all sites where animals transit could be cost prohibitive.
The reality is that even if the proposed regulations required individual animal reporting at all sites, there will likely be data gaps similar to those described above.
The "hierarchy of movement" concept attempts to take a "systems approach" to filling in data gaps, especially in situations where group/lot movement reporting is in place, but also where no reporting has taken place (applies to all jurisdictions).
The proposed regulations (generally) suggest that (with some exceptions):
Movement to a "farm" or terminal site will require individual animal reporting; and,
Movement to an "intermediate site" will require group/lot reporting.
A study of livestock movement in Canada suggests that livestock generally move in only one of the following ways:
Hierarchy 1: farm to farm;
Hierarchy 2: farm to intermediate site to farm; and,
Hierarchy 3: farm to intermediate site to intermediate site to farm.
The hierarchy of movement uses the above logic to first reconcile transactions beginning at hierarchy 1 because these transactions are straight forward an use individual animal IDs. Only when all of these transactions are satisfied, does the system move to the next hierarchy. By hierarchy 3 (and no other possible movement options available), the hierarchy of movement can place animals at specific locations during specific timeframes, essentially providing a database with individual animal presence, even if individual animal reporting has not taken place.
This concept could allow for traceability technology service providers to test the hierarchy of movement within an existing traceability system using real data. The results of these tests could then be incorporated into the traceability databases to improve data quality and completeness.
Note: The concept is theoretical, and rigor will be required by service providers to determine if the concept legitimately results in useful data. That data may need to be segregated in systems to meet regulatory requirements or avoid liability issues.
© His Majesty the King in Right of Canada, 2023
- Publisher - Current Organization Name: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
- Licence: Open Government Licence - Canada