Systems for dairy cattle ID have evolved from being unique to the farm to being unique internationally. Although fewer than five characters or digits were needed to be unique within a herd, today's international dairy industry requires a 19-character ID number: 3-letter country code, 3-letter breed code, 1-letter gender code, and 12-digit animal number. Global ID has come at a price; larger ID numbers contribute to more data entry errors. Electronic ID tags and readers are sometimes used to assist dairy farmers in managing feeding, milking, breeding, and health care of individual cows with the data transferred to an on-farm computer. In some countries, unique ID for each animal is mandatory.

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