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Northern Ireland animal info system roll out begins

27/06/17

First stage of NIFAIS goes live with plans for further developments next year

The first stage of the new Northern Ireland Food Animal Information System (NIFAIS) has gone live, marking a step forward in its programme to improve animal traceability in the livestock industry.

Cows looking at cameraThe Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) said yesterday that NIFAIS, the replacement for the Animal Plant Health Information System (APHIS), became operational on 19 June.

It covers the registration of new animal keepers, approval of new herd and flock numbers, and authorisation of new or replacement bovine ear tags.

The next step will involve the disease control and food animal traceability functions coming online in the spring/summer 2018.

NIFAIS has been developed under an £8.7 million, nine-year contract with Belfast based software company AMTSybex, part of Capita. The company provided the predecessor system to the Northern Ireland Executive, and has also delivered the sheep, goat and deer recording and movement system to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Animal traceability has been highlighted by DAERA as a core element of the Going for Growth strategy for Northern Ireland agriculture sector.

Integration plans

Chief veterinary officer Robert Huey said: “When fully implemented, NIFAIS will integrate with DAERA’s mapping, customer information, payment and records management systems, as well as its suite of online services. It will also link seamlessly to other IT systems within the department, in addition to DAERA’s delivery partners, such as labs, vets and ear tag suppliers, and also out to industry IT systems.

“As a result, NIFAIS offers staff, delivery partners and farmers the ability to access these systems 24/7, with all the benefits of a single source of information, with increased security and privacy.

“Additionally, the NIFAIS contract offers the department (or others) the opportunity to introduce further enhancements and interfaces in a cost-effective manner as, unlike its predecessor, it allows for more open competition between prospective suppliers.”

Running in parallel with the introduction of NIFAIS, DAERA is upgrading the Aphis-on-Line service, which provides facilities to trace animals from birth to slaughter, to reflect user feedback. These include optimisation for use on smartphones and tablets, and improvements in the sire registration process and display information on BVD (bovine viral diarrhoea) status.

Within the next year further features are scheduled to be added on cattle movement, import and death notification processes.

DAERA added that there are plans for veterinary practices to have access to improved tools to assist with the delivery of TB testing, monitoring of performance, and management of the health of their clients’ herds.

Image by Sam Wise, CC BY-SA 2.0

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