Technical Level: Intermidiate

Cattle lifecycle, traceability and supply chain - Case Study

Control of import, export and supply chain within the agriculture sector has created a number of controversial issues reaching the press and alerting public to the misuse of labelling and knowledge regarding products.

What are the Current Issues with Cattle Produce

What are the Current Issues with Cattle Produce

It is very difficult to ensure that meat produce entering the supply chain is of maximum grade and also even where the meat originated. In Canada, cheap meat is being imported but processed locally, providing the importers the ability to label the meat as local. The UK has seen this too with different produce including pork, whereby Danish pork is labelled as British due to the production process taking place within the UK.

There are also concerns as to the farming method used to produce meat, including over use of antibiotics and even enhancers, such as hormone implants.

Worldwide it is estimated that 73% of all antibiotics are used in farm animals, not people. Much of this use is routine, and enables farm animals, most often pigs and poultry but sometimes also cattle, to be kept in poor conditions where disease spreads easily.

Which Countries use hormone implants?

Hormones implants have been used in the US for over fifty years and are now approved in about 30 countries, including Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Mexico and most of South America with the exception of Brazil. But that doesn’t mean that hormone implants are given to all cattle produced in these countries. In the US about two thirds of cattle are given hormone implants. Countries require strict monitoring of which cattle have been implanted with hormones and which have not.

Disparate Information Systems

As with most sectors, there are information service providers competing for a stake in the market. This is true with agriculture and makes for interoperability problems. Even with the push into agriculture from large players, such and SAP and Oracle, there is still the well known inability to efficiently exchange data in an open connectivity manner.

Brexit Movement of Goods Impact

In order to qualify for tariff-free access, GB goods will need to meet RoO requirements. Some industries, especially food, will simply be unable to do this: cane sugar imported from the Caribbean and refined in the UK will not qualify for access to the EU tariff-free, nor will basmati rice imported from India and milled in the UK. Any meat product must contain only meat from animals born and raised in the UK or the EU.

Imports will still need to comply with the respective UK and EU laws in this area. Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) border controls involve the most extensive checks, with specialist paperwork and frequent physical inspections required on products of animal origin. This UK–EU deal sets a general aim to keeping the frequency of checks to a minimum but does not remove the need for them. The UK has not achieved its ambition of agreeing an equivalence mechanism for SPS measures, or agreeing a reduced level of checks or fees similar to the EU–New Zealand veterinary agreement where only 1% of goods are subject to SPS checks. This would likely have required the UK to sign up to greater regulatory alignment with the EU in this area. 

From the quotes above, extracted from it is easy to see the firm requirements and extra checks required within the entire supply chain of meats both imported from the EU and exported from the UK. This will place more burden on the supply chain as a whole and in particular the farmers and customs during the export and import procedures. Currently the burden will present a great deal of extra paperwork and more weight on the various separate systems in use through the whole sector.

Traceability of Breeds

Farmers are required to keep records of all medications, veterinary and to an extent, contact between animals on their farms. However, being able to drill deeper into the family history, overall farm conditions and associative contact is extremely difficult. During production, it is almost impossible to ascertain the cut of meat back to the cattle it was produced from. Much of the paperwork is completed for export, based again on disparate systems and knowledge, thus does not provide a truly transparent view of the meat.

Consumer Knowledge

The end user or consumer is the ultimate person to be protected and be provided with true and fit information in order for them to be able to make a calculated decision on the cut of meat at purchase time. As with many products, “fudging” of information is used in an attempt to “trick” the consumer into purchasing meat which is not necessarily the cut they believe they are purchasing.

Impact Assessment

Organic Trace Technologies has measured the impact on both the supply chain and the transparency and clear product exposure to the procurement and consumer of the agricultural product. From this, we have created the solution for the entire farm to table lifecycle.


Health considerations with animal and crop care practices causing various contaminations and abuse of medical solutions during husbandry.

  • Over used pesticides and insecticides

  • Hormone replacement

  • Over use of antibiotics

  • Injection of black market meats and crops

Supply chain and consumers can be assured of good quality products and be aware of potential over use of products which may cause detrimental effects to their health


Movement of goods through supply chain to export currently is an extremely long process and there are still areas of uncertainty through the movement process.

  • Poor record keeping through disparate systems increasing workload on key stages of the supply chain

  • Rapid changes in regulation creating areas of lag and confusion, or adoption delay

  • Proof of locality of produce can be deceptive when crossing borders

Provisioning of API solutions, exposed to providers within the agriculture sector, rather than “yet another platform”, along with bonded templates for medical, lifecycle, movement of goods and regulation will allow for a seamless connection between all services, solutions and hardware used in the sector, along with the solutions for any global border customs


Traceability and tracking of produce throughout the whole process from birth to table is currently extremely limited and data is disparate, creating a large demand on paperwork to be created and processed.

  • Currently there is no real way to determine a products family tree and any potential for incorrect or poor quality breeding techniques or evolution / hybrid of produce.

  • Disparate information and production systems create “voids” in data flow during various processes and areas of the supply chain.

  • Poor quality raw materials and seaman are potentially introduced with little to no visibility to supply chain

  • Black market products can enter the supply chain during a number of key points and are hard to trace

  • Contamination at any given point in the supply chain is extremely difficult to determine the extent of which other products may have been contaminated

Treating the animal or any other product as an asset provides the ability to bond any form of medical or regulatory templates to it. This also presents the ability to trace through an entire family tree with ease and is exposed to any point of the supply chain.

Unique identifiers are capable of being used and any form of ID solution from coding to RfID can be used and consumed to the originating UID. This provides a complete link from the final product to the originating product and into the full history of the product and it’s family tree. Bio Markers can be used in products to provide a key measuring point, linking to raw products and materials used.

Associative relationships between the assets create the ability to trace any given association / contact which the product has been related to, whether another plant, animal, person, production facility, shipping and the crew, through to the outlet for the product and the consumer. This provides the ability to rapidly identify contaminated products and all associations with them.

The Organic Trace Technologies Approach to Complete Traceability Within the Agriculture Sector

The Organic Trace Technologies Approach to Complete Traceability Within the Agriculture Sector

OTT has partnered with Every Asset as an Independent Software Vendor (ISV) to develop the global solution for track and trace within the agricultural and horticultural sector.

Utilising the permissioned, private / hybrid public blockchain as a service, OTT has developed our solution using our own instances, exposing our node for the sector. By developing the products “digital twins”, we are able to treat every single product as an asset of types animal, vegetable, mineral (for example) and create the seamless links between them, their ancestors and of course, their descendants with extremely simple logic.

OTT is also utilising the exposed API from Track and Trace Technologies in order to inject and consume highly detailed traces at all points of lifecycle, through process to supply chain and finally consumer. With this, any point of the supply chain, regulation, enforcement or agency can interrogate the trace in order to identify many forms of contact including, but not limited to disease, purposeful contamination, abuse of enhancers and medication and health of end users. As we are able to trace through family history, an agency can also “drill” into history for abuse further down the family lines.

OTT has also adopted the API from Anti Counterfeit Technologies, which is exposed in the Every Asset API store in order to provide the last link in removing counterfeit products from the supply chain and exposing this at any point of the supply, through to the consumer being able to scan a product to identify source, verification of authenticity and medication / enhancers utilised during the products life.

OTT has exposed a purposeful SaaS platform, but has no intention of providing another interface which requires adoption. Instead, hardware, software and sector professionals are able to partner with and add the value of the platform to their solutions, reaching every point of the industry with ease. OTT does not need to identify the end clients, but instead is able to reach mass proliferation through the partner network and industry regulators, organisations and agencies / bodies.

All parties within the chain are able to create and host their own nodes within the Every Asset network and also choose whether they adapt on premise, cloud or hybrid solutions. With the mixed instances, and the Every Asset “node hospital”, transactions are still able to take place in a stored method, even when no internet connection is available. Transactions operate in a peer 2 peer method and only the required transaction data is exposed to the peers taking part in the transaction. Data marked as public is exposed to the public Every Asset cloud and also regulators, agencies and governments are able to gain permissions to interrogate data on the private nodes during investigations, but also to trace during import and export of the produce.


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