Canada has taken precautionary steps to enable it to contain a BSE outbreak, without loss of export trade, by following British practice and launching an identification programme where all cattle have tags inserted in their ears with an imbedded microchip or bar code which will track animals back to their farm of origin. The programme, a combined effort by abattoirs, farmers and government was initiated by the Canadian Cattlemen's Association in response to the mass slaughter of cattle in the UK due to BSE. The aim of the cow ID system is to prevent animals from being killed if a health risk develops in the bovine population and also to try and minimise the future risk of devastating diseases spreading in the national herd.