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Northern Ireland improves animal health system
Published:  26 June, 2017

The Northern Irish government has begun to introduce a new initiative that will oversee the welfare of livestock. 

As of last week, the Northern Ireland Food Animal Information System (NIFAIS) started being implemented to replace the Animal Plant Health Information System (APHIS).

The new system allows cattle ear tag suppliers and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (Daera) staff to cover the registration of new animal keepers, approve new herd and flock numbers, and will allow new or replacement bovine ear tags.

“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,” said chief veterinary officer Robert Huey.

“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 offer 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.”

Huey added: “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.”

Alongside the new NIFAIS scheme, Daera is also upgrading the Aphis Online service after taking user feedback into consideration. A redesign, allowing the site to be formatted for smartphones and tablets, is part of the new upgrades. There are also plans to improve the sire registration process, to provide information on BVD status, and to share information on cattle movement and import and death notification processes.

Veterinarians will be provided with the appropriate tools to deliver TB testing, monitoring of performance, and management of the health of clients’ herds.

The £8.7 million NIFAIS contract was awarded in 2016 over a nine-year period.