The Livestock Information Service is a new way to trace livestock in England.  It will replace the existing systems for cattle (BCMS), pigs (EAML2) and sheep, goats and farmed deer (ARAMS).

The existing traceability services – BCMS, EAML2 and ARAMS – respectively cover cattle, pigs and sheep, goats and farmed deer.  They are independent systems, designed on different platforms and have different levels of technology.  Much of that technology is now out of date; BCMS uses physical paper “passports” to trace ownership of individual cattle, for example.

The move to a digital system mirrors similar moves made across UK Governmental services in recent years, including vehicle registration, tax payments and passports.

The future of farming demands a digital solution to traceability, and similar systems are being introduced across the globe.  In order to stay competitive with overseas producers we need to update our system.

The core of the Livestock Information Service will gather and manage the data associated with animals from birth to death.

Replacing the existing traceability systems with a new, digital system means we can revolutionise the way that livestock information is managed in this country, allowing:

  • Faster and easier handling of data at markets, farms and abattoirs
  • Improved food security
  • Increased consumer confidence in British meat products
  • Increased livestock productivity efficiencies
  • Domestic and international trade opportunities
  • Vastly-improved disease tracing and control
  • More accurate disease forecasting and data modelling
  • More proportionate, targeted enforcement and inspections

The Livestock information Service will also enable the development of a range of ‘value-add’ products and tools that have the potential to benefit the meat and livestock industry.

No.  The Livestock Information Service is replacing statutory services (BCMS, EAML2 and ARAMS) which livestock keepers are obliged to use for reasons of food security, safety and animal welfare.  As such the Livestock information Service will also be a statutory service which industry must comply with.

The Livestock Information Programme (LIP) is an Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB)-led partnership between Government and industry which was set up to build the Livestock Information Service. LIP has done this by creating Livestock Information Limited, a company owned 51% by AHDB and 49% by Defra, which will deliver the core service.

“Working in partnership, Defra and industry will develop world leading standards of livestock traceability in England. ​This will deliver a competitive trade advantage, make us more resilient and responsive to animal disease and will drive innovation, interoperability and productivity improvements throughout the meat and livestock sector.”

The Core Livestock Application (CLA), which will be the heart of the Livestock Information Service, is being developed by LI Ltd in collaboration with Shearwell Data.  The CLA is based on a Shearwell product which was purchased outright by LI Ltd.  Shearwell does not gain any commercial advantage for its other farm software products as a result of this arrangement.

The integration element of the development, which involves making the CLA usable ‘on the ground’ by a variety of devices and platforms, is being handled by SCISYS.

Data warehousing, which is the process of taking all the data required by the system from many different sources and preparing it for use by the CLA, is being delivered by Equine Register.

Our first priority to transition to the Livestock Information Service is sheep. This is because the existing sheep service – ARAMS – is an England-only service and our replacement will also be an England-only service. Therefore, it is within our control, with nothing preventing a full transition to the LIS. We also think that there are opportunities to improve in due course the quality of traceability, and potentially help to provide the industry with data that could help with international trade post EU transition.

We plan to start roll-out of the Livestock Information Service during 2021, first for sheep.

If you are in the meat production industry, you will be told what preparation you need in a range of ways.  You can expect to see updates in the farming press and from AHDB and Defra communications.  We will also use BCMS to update you on what you need to do.  There will also be updates available from the partner organisations who are helping to build the service, including NFU, BBS, BPS, BSS, Alidma, LAA etc

The Livestock Information Service will be a digital service, supported by an experienced customer service team to assist those who are less able to use digital channels.

The Livestock information Service will identify animals, dates of birth and death, and history of sales and physical movements made.

As part of the value-add services, it will be possible to link that information to a wide range of other data, such as medical history, genetic data and growth information.  This information can then be used to develop new services and products for the industry.

All of this data will be managed to the highest levels of security and anonymised (except where anonymity would defeat the purpose of sharing).  As a user, you will have the right to decide how much of your data is shared

The Livestock Information Service will operate in England.  Similar services are in development by the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland devolved administrations.

LUIS is the old, working name for the Livestock Information Services’ Ear Tag Allocation System. This is an electronic ID system for all livestock and will be a precursor to the Livestock Information System.  The new LIS Ear Tag Allocation System will be introduced by the end of 2020 ahead of 2021 Spring Block Calving.

TDUG stands for Traceability Design User Group.  TDUG is a cross-industry body whose role is to guide the creation of the Livestock Information Service and make sure that the voice of industry is fully-integrated at the heart of the service.  It consists of representatives of more than 20 organisations which are directly-involved in the livestock business, from the National Farmers’ Union and the National Beef, Sheep and Pig Associations; through government bodies such as the Food Standards Agency and Trading Standards, to groups such as the Road Hauliers’ Association and British Equestrian Federation.

TDUG meets regularly to review and guide the development of the Livestock Information Service.

he core Livestock Information Service is being funded by the taxpayer, and not via AHDB levy payments.

Value-add services will be funded by a variety of sources, depending on who is developing them.

The Livestock Information Service will deliver world-leading standards of information for beef, pig meat, lamb, goat and venison. This will offer better point-of-sale information, which in turn will drive up consumer confidence in British meat products.

The Livestock Information Service will increase accuracy and timeliness of livestock data.  This will provide a much better view of where the animals are at any given time, allowing the authorities to trace movements very rapidly in the event of a disease outbreak.

The fact that data collection and processing will be primarily digital will mean a reduced work load for many individuals in the industry.

The data gathered by the Livestock Information Service will allow the creation of “value-add” applications which have the potential to increase our understanding of the industry and improve management, efficiency and profitability.

The benefits to the exchequer are set out in detail in the Full Business Case .  Creating and implementing the Livestock Information Service not only offers widespread efficiency and profitability benefits, it is actually cheaper than the “do nothing” option.

In addition, significant disease outbreaks in livestock have a devastating impact on rural communities and a substantial financial cost (the 2001 UK Foot And Mouth outbreak was estimated to have cost £8bn).  The improved biosecurity and traceability offered by the Livestock information Service has the potential to shut down outbreaks of that kind much faster, limiting the damage at all levels.

Like many areas of national life, COVID-19 caused some upheaval to the Livestock Information Programme.  In particular, it meant that the on-farm testing we had intended to carry out through most of Summer 2020 had to be postponed.  However, we continued to develop the software and integration systems during lockdown, and can confidently say that we are on course to deliver all of our targets.  The timing of these may have to change as we will focus on making sure that the greatest benefits are delivered in the least time.