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The Client

The Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) is the department of the Isle of Man Government responsible for administering the legislation covering the agricultural and fisheries industries, as well as that protecting the Island’s countryside and wildlife. This includes managing the Island’s livestock, which includes over 20,000 cattle.

DEFA Headquarters building alongside the Isle of Man Government logo

The Challenge

Due to legislation introduced by the European Union, DEFA needed a digital system to record information about the existence and movement of all bovine animals on the Isle of Man. The legislation mandated that every bovine animal, from birth or import onto the Island to death or export, be tracked through a Europe-wide Unique Bovine Animal Number (UBAN), marked by two ear tags. DEFA needed a robust solution to ensure the accurate identification and traceability of each animal, manage the distribution and status of ear tags, and address the logistical complexities associated with recording movements and births.

Cow with ear tags

The Solution

Following their successful completion of a procurement process, PDMS was selected as the software provider of choice for the development of the Bovine Information and Tracking System (BITS). The solution needed to adhere to tight development timelines to meet the imminent EU legislation deadline. The bespoke system was designed to handle the unique requirements of ear tag manufacturers, track the issuance and status of tags, and facilitate the seamless recording of bovine births, deaths, and movements.

Close up of a software developer typing on a keyboard alongside two highland cows

The Project

The registration of the birth of an animal is driven from the receipt of a pre-printed Birth Registration Form from the keeper of the animal. The keeper, which may be a person or a company, the holding of birth, the UBAN, breed and sex of the animal are all recorded. The UBAN is checked for uniqueness; the status of the corresponding tag is checked and, if correct, updated. The Cattle Passport and two Movement Cards are printed; after a pre-defined number of registrations for the same holding, replacement Birth Registration Forms are printed. This allows all documentation to be posted out to a holding in one batch.

The two Movement Cards printed are a Departure Notification and an Arrival Notification. In the field, the keeper of an animal completes the Departure Notification, and passes the Arrival Notification on to the new keeper, when an animal changes hands. Receipt of either initiates a Movement Registration on the BIT system. New Movement Cards are only printed on receipt of an Arrival Notification, therefore preventing any subsequent movements of animals whose last movement has not yet been reported.

In addition, the BIT System contains a flexible query and reporting engine, and a full audit trail of all registrations, movements and other actions on the system. This is all controlled by a system of privileges, which allows for users to be specified as system Administrators, with access to all BIT system functions; Operators with access to virtually all BIT system functions; Data Entry users who can perform registration and movement type functions; or read-only Browsers.

The Results

Since its implementation, the BITS has been successfully managing data for 165,000 animals. The system has been operational for several years, demonstrating reliability and effectiveness in meeting the legislative requirements. Enhancements have recently been made to include new functionalities, allowing farmers to manage and view animal records comprehensively for the past ten years, and register births, deaths, imports, exports and movements of cattle between the different holdings on the Isle of Man.

A farmer uses a tablet to monitor and manage dairy cattle, with cattle in the background

The Benefits

The BITS has significantly improved the control and tracking of bovine animals on the Isle of Man, introducing several key benefits:

  • Enhanced accuracy: Ensuring animals cannot be registered without tags and preventing unrecorded movements
  • Improved management: Online access to animal data aids farmers in efficient farm management and compliance with TB testing requirements
  • Regulatory compliance: Meeting stringent EU legislative requirements and providing a robust audit trail for all animal registrations and movements
Groep of Angus Cattle and Calves