The information below has been supplied by dairy marketers and other industry organizations. It has not been edited, verified or endorsed by Hoard’s Dairyman.

USDA announced their implementation timeline for mandatory electronic animal identification for cattle earlier this year. By January 1, 2023 all dairy cattle will require an official 840 RFID ear tag for interstate movement.

The use of radio frequency identification (RFID) ear tags speeds up data collection and improves animal disease traceability. This improved level of traceability is crucial to protect the long-term health, marketability and economic viability of the U.S. livestock industry.

To initiate the move away from metal tags, and toward RFID ear tags, USDA has announced an implementation timeline:

  • December 31, 2019 – USDA will discontinue providing free metal tags. However, approved vendors will be permitted to produce official metal tags for one additional year. Approved vendor tags will be available for purchase on a State-by-State basis as authorized by each State animal health official through December 31, 2020.
  • January 1, 2021 – USDA will no longer approve vendor production of metal ear tags with the official USDA shield. Accredited veterinarians and/or producers can no longer apply metal ear tags for official identification and must start using official RFID ear tags.
  • January 1, 2023 – RFID ear tags will be required for dairy cattle moving interstate. Animals previously tagged with metal ear tags will have to be retagged with RFID ear tags.

“Holstein Association USA encourages dairymen to consider adding or switching to RFID ear tags with their next inventory tag order,” says Darin Johnson, Holstein Association USA Dairy Identification Manager. “USDA has been providing free metal ear tags, so their implementation timeline has focused on the move away from them. For our members that have been using visual 840 tags, those animals also will have to be retagged after January 1, 2023 to comply with USDA’s RFID requirement.”

In order to purchase official 840 RFID ear tags, a producer must first obtain a premises identification number (PIN) from their state’s department of agriculture. Once a premises identification number is acquired, visit to order tags or contact a Holstein Association USA customer service representative by calling, 800.952.5200.

Those wanting to learn more can visit, or contact Darin Johnson at 800.952.5200, ext. 4048, or by email,

Holstein Association USA, Inc.,, provides products and services to dairy producers to enhance genetics and improve profitability — ranging from registry processing to identification programs to consulting services.

The Association, headquartered in Brattleboro, Vt., maintains the records for Registered Holsteins® and represents approximately 30,000 members throughout the United States.