Whether you’ve got 1 or 100 chickens in your backyard, the state’s animal health experts want to have you on speed dial.

That call list also includes anyone who houses horses, pigs, cattle, goats, sheep, llamas, farm-raised gamebirds, emus and more. Whether the animals are raised for hobby or business makes no difference.

Since 2006, Wisconsin has served as the national model in premises registration, becoming the first state to require people who own or house livestock to register places where they keep animals.

The confidential process costs the owner nothing and gives the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) a chance to respond within 24 hours of an animal disease outbreak.

“I think the biggest thing, which we have seen in action, is that we can very quickly identify premises that have species that may be susceptible to a certain disease,” says Gretchen May, DVM, veterinary program manager for DATCP. “For example, within the day of the avian influenza outbreak in 2015, we were able to identify premises that could be affected and notify them immediately of what was going on. In the past, we would have to drive around to premises, knock on doors and ask if they have poultry.”

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From weeks to hours – that rapid response time can mean the difference between life and death for livestock facing a major animal disease outbreak. The registry also supports public health in the event that an animal-borne illness also threatens humans. It minimizes economic hardship as it reduces disruption to businesses, employees and consumers intertwined in the state’s multibillion-dollar agriculture industry. Likewise, premises registration adds a layer of protection to the Wisconsin food supply, because of the state’s livestock are food animals.

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Registry Awareness

The Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium (WLIC) developed the necessary software to register premises and now manages the registry for DATCP. As of early 2019, the electronic database included about 62,000 active premises with owners accessible by phone or email in the case of a disease concern.

However, backyard poultry owners and horse owners lag in registration compared to other species, May says. Sometimes, these animal owners are unaware of the program or feel they have too few animals for this requirement to apply to them. She encourages owners of all the required species to register online at wiid.org/premises_registration.

Vet Offices, Farm-Raised Fish Included

State law requires premises registration for any place where livestock or dead animals are kept or congregated. That may include a family farm, hobby farm, backyard poultry flocks, veterinary clinics, markets and livestock feedlots.

The computerized database assigns each premise a unique number, which remains with the location. Registrants must renew their premises every three years. In between, they should update when there is a change in species or when animals are no longer kept on the property.

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Livestock covered by the law include cattle and other bovine animals, swine, poultry, sheep, goats, horses and other equine animals, farm-raised deer and other cervids, gamebirds raised in captivity (including pheasants, quail, wild turkeys, migrating waterfowl, pigeons and exotic birds), bison, llamas and other camelids, farm-raised fish and ratites, such as emus and ostriches.

“DATCP’s goal is to register every premises with livestock, and we need help from livestock owners to submit this information – from one backyard chicken to a large commercial dairy cow herd – to enable us to quickly identify at-risk locations in the event of a disease outbreak,” May says. “Our ultimate goal is to quickly contain and control animal diseases that are a threat to animal health and public health.”

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How to Register

Online: wiid.org/premises_registration

Paper: Email, mail or fax paper application from above web site to the Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium (WLIC).

Phone: Call WLIC at (888) 808-1910

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