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Goats, ponies, chicks and cows: Registration law applies to all

Whether you have two chickens, one horse or a herd of cattle, a new state law requires that you register your premises.

The Wisconsin Premises Registration Act, effective Nov. 1, mandates that anyone who keeps, houses or mingles livestock must provide basic information about where and what kind of animals they have.

The process is fast, easy and free, said Leanne Ketterhagen, manager of communications and marketing for the Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium.

She said the intent of the law is to provide "trace-back and trace-from" information in the event of an animal disease outbreak. This capability protects animals as well as the industry, she said.

"A lot of people think this is just a cattle effort," said Ketterhagen. But it also applies to other livestock, including horses, donkeys, bison, llamas, deer, elk, goats, captive game birds, chickens, turkeys, gees, ducks, ostriches, sheep and pigs.

WLIC, a non-profit association of livestock industry and producers organizations, is acting as an agent for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to implement the new state law.

Premises not currently registered by DATCP are required to register by Jan. 1, 2006. Farms licensed by DATCP must register as part of their annual license renewal.

Ketterhagen said premises registration is the first of three major steps to implement the National Animal Identification System. The next steps are animal identification and tracking.

"Basically we handle information on registration and tell everyone about it," said Ketterhagen of her organization's role.

The law also applies to veterinary clinics, stables, livestock markets, livestock truckers, slaughter plants and livestock exhibitions.

"Registration is very simple," said Ketterhagen.

She said it involves providing just three pieces of information: an address, the name of the person who works with the animals and the species. The system does not ask for the number or value of animals on the premises.

Livestock owners who don't register before the deadline be fined or lose federal or state indemnification funds, paid for animals put down during a disease outbreak. Fines for violations range from $200 to $5,000.

Exhibiting, selling or slaughtering livestock from unregistered premises will be prohibited if the U.S. Department of Agriculture mandates premises registration or if all surrounding states impose the same prohibition, according to a WLIC fact sheet.