NLIS and Carcase Feedback
The National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) is Australia's system for the permanent identification and tracing of cattle for market access, food safety and disease control purposes.
The NLIS offers many benefits to beef producers including the ability to link each animal to its carcase feedback data. This can assist with breeding, nutrition, marketing, and benchmarking decisions, as well as on-farm and pre-slaughter management strategies. This information note describes how to access and use carcase feedback on the NLIS database.
NLIS carcase feedback
Feedback is available if you have:
- NLIS identified cattle that you have bred and were sold as stores and slaughtered in a Victorian abattoir.
- Sold NLIS identified cattle direct to a Victorian processor, and you or the abattoir has transferred those cattle to the abattoir PIC
- Sold NLIS identified cattle at a saleyard that were subsequently slaughtered in a Victorian abattoir.
The NLIS carcase feedback system provides:
- Individual animal carcase data.
- Easy to use individual animal records.
- Quick and efficient data transfer from the processor.
- Scope to identify and improve genetic traits.
- Scope to identify and improve management practices for better returns.
- Scope to identify factors affecting carcase quality.
- Reduced transcription and recording errors.
Carcase feedback available to Victorian producers
Victorian processors are providing to the NLIS database as a minimum the following information on the NLIS identified cattle they slaughter:
- Date of Slaughter.
- NLIS Tag details (RFID and NLIS numbers).
- Vendor's Property Identification Code (PIC).
- Hot Standard Carcase Weight (HSCW) or weight at slaughter – this is the dressed weight of a carcase prior to chilling and after the AUS-MEAT standard trim has been applied.
- Body Number.
Processors may also choose to include other feedback information such as chiller assessment details (eg. meat colour, fat colour, marbling), but this is not compulsory.
How can I obtain NLIS carcase feedback from the NLIS database?
There are two options available to producers to access carcase feedback information on the NLIS database:
- Producers can register as an NLIS database user and obtain a password by entering information; or
- Third Party Access. You can nominate someone to access your carcase data on your behalf ie a friend who has access to the database, agent, family member etc. An access authority form will need to be completed by the producer if you would like someone to access your information on your behalf. This form can be found on the NLIS web site.
Accessing NLIS carcase feedback using the NLIS database – step by step guide
Log onto the database by entering your UserID and password, or register for an account if you are a new user.
Select 'Carcase feedback query' from the drop down list in the light blue section asking 'What do you want to do today?' then click 'Go'.
Enter a date range and select your Property Identification Code (PIC), then click 'Continue'.
Select the date for which you would like to view carcase data for. To select multiple dates hold down the shift button and click on the dates. You can display the carcase data using either the RFID or NLIS number – select the appropriate circle.
Options for viewing carcase feedback
There are three options are provided for viewing carcase feedback.
1. Display on Browser
An example of the data producers will see on screen is as follows:
2. CSV format (Comma Separated Values)
A CSV file is a type of file, which uses a standard comma (,) to separate pieces (fields) of information. A CSV file can be created using either Windows Notepad or Microsoft Excel.
3. ISFF format (Industry Standard Formatted File)
ISFF is a standard format used in the beef industry for data transfer. ISFF formats are provided for integration of data into other commercial software packages a producer may be using.
CSV or ISFF can be selected if data is to be downloaded and integrated with on-farm software applications for complete on-farm management of records.
Producers can access the carcase feedback facility 24 hours a day to review the carcase details of their cattle. A producer has six months to download or view feedback on slaughtered cattle before it is archived.
Using carcase feedback for herd management
Producers can use carcase feedback to modify management practices to ensure that future consignments comply better with market specifications, and to drive genetic improvement. This has the potential to improve the profitability of a beef enterprise.
Improved pre-slaughter management
Consignment practices such as mustering, transport and yard design can cause increased stress and bruising. Feedback on the detection of undesirable carcase traits such as bruising and dark meat colour allows producers to implement strategies for addressing these problems.
It can be difficult to determine if undesirable carcase traits have arisen on-farm or beyond the farm gate (e.g. during transportation or at the saleyard or abattoir). If feedback shows a persistent bruising or dark cutting problem, the producer should review their management practices or talk with their processor, agent and transporter.
Better breeding decisions
Individual feedback allows desirable characteristics to be identified. Producers can compare progeny of various sires, breeds or crosses, and link them with objective selection programs, such as BREEDPLAN.
Accurate live animal performance linked to individual carcase data allows comparison of animal performance on different diets. This will be useful in evaluating supplementary feeding and pasture improvement programs.
Fine tune marketing decisions
Individual animal feedback can help improve drafting of cattle for particular markets. For example, committing cattle with a low propensity to marble to a long-fed regime may prove unprofitable. Drafting decisions can be fine-tuned to maximise returns from each animal.
Checking compliance levels (from feedback data) and understanding price grids (provided by the processor) can help ensure that cattle are consistently turned off at weights and condition scores that optimise net returns.
Pulling it together – benchmarking
Benchmarking enables producers to see the value of improvements over time and monitor genetic traits, animal performance and management practices.
FAQs for NLIS carcase feedback
NLIS carcase feedback
Who is it available to?
Vendor of NLIS identified cattle (sold "over the hooks" and transferred to abattoir PIC or sold through saleyards). Note: some inter-state abattoirs do not provide carcase feedback, but all Victorian processors do.
Is it lot or individual animal based feedback?
Individual animal feedback based on the NLIS identification of the cattle.
What type of feedback information is available?
Minimum information includes NLIS ID or RFID, date of slaughter, HSCW or slaughter weight and body number.
In what format is the data available in?
On screen, accessed via the Internet, or
Is the data confidential?
1 Suitable for downloading into applications such as MS Excel or MS Word
2 Industry Standard File Format (ISFF) which allows the file to be directly imported into on-farm software
NLIS Carcase feedback terms
Common carcase feedback and NLIS terms include the following:
- Body number – a unique number assigned to each carcase by the processor.
- Bruise score - relates to the measurement of bruises at specific sites on the carcase.
- Carcase Sex - the sex of the animal as defined by AUS-MEAT. Can be bull (B), male (M), female (F) or for lots of cattle, mixed (MI)
- Dentition - a measure of the number of permanent incisor teeth, which is roughly correlated to the age of the animal.
- Fat measurement - the depth measurement of subcutaneous fat, in millimetres, generally at the P8 site (rump).
- Grade – The abattoir grade which indicates how the beast has graded and hence the price paid per kg. MSA accredited producers may receive other information related to how the carcase graded, as per the boning room requirements of the processor.
- Hot Standard Carcase Weight (HSCW) - the dressed weight of a carcase prior to chilling and after the AUS-MEAT standard trim has been applied. (Some plants provide weight at slaughter as an alternative to HSCW).
- Kill date - the slaughter date for each animal.
- NLIS Breeder Tag - A white NLIS approved device used to permanently identify cattle while they are still on their property of birth.
- NLIS number - Unique number printed on NLIS devices consisting of:
- 8 character PIC of the property on which the device is to be used,
- 2 alpha characters identifying the manufacturer and device type, eg NLIS Breeder or Post-breeder Tag,
- alpha character for year of supply, and
- 4 or 5 character serial number, which if a producer wishes, may be replicated on the visually read management tag.
- NLIS Post-breeder Tag - An orange NLIS approved device for the permanent identification of cattle that are no longer on their property of birth that are not already identified with an NLIS Breeder or Post-breeder Tag.
- PIC - Property Identification Code, formerly referred to as the 'tail tag number'. This is a unique 8 character code assigned by State/Territory Departments of Agriculture/Primary Industries, or in New South Wales by the Rural Lands Protection Board, to a livestock producing property.
- Price – The price per kg paid for the animal determined by the slaughter floor measurements of the carcase against the grid supplied by the processor prior to slaughter. This price is then multiplied by the HSCW to determine the gross value of the body.RFID number - a unique radio frequency identifier, encoded on the microchip embedded in each NLIS which, when read electronically, has 16 characters in the following format:
- Manufacturer's code -3 numeric characters ie 982
- Space-1 character
- Individual chip number 12 numeric characters 000001234567.
Specific NLIS database queries
NLIS Hotline: 1800 NLIS ID (1800 654 743)
NLIS queries in Victoria
For queries on the NLIS in Victoria, call our Helpline on 1800 678 779 during business hours.