Change of AWA Animal Registration Idents

Year Code instead of Year Letter for 2022 Registrations

The AWA has used a year letter system for registration of animals, to denote the year of birth of all animals in the AWA Herdbook.  There are only 24 letters in the alphabet, but time is infinite.

So, what happens when we run out of letters?

Using the English alphabet as the base of the 24 year letters, we do not use the letter “O” or the letter “I” due to the potential for confusion as numerical integers within an Animal ID.  This leaves us with only 22 year letters that have been used to create an animal’s unique identification. As communicated at the 2021 WagyuEdge Conference and throughout 2021, each animal registered in the AWA Herdbook is required to have a unique registration identifier.  This is the “Animal ID”. With the First Wagyu genetics arriving in Australia more than 30 years ago, we are in the predicament of the risk of Animal ID duplications becoming increasing greater as larger numbers of animals are being born in herds that have been registering animals for 22 years or longer.

The AWA Bylaws define how the AWA constructs Animal ID’s for the registration of animals as follows:

  • IDENTIFICATION in relation to an animal means the unique series of the following information on that animal; its Herd Code, Grade Code, Year Letter and Calf-Drop Number.
  • HERD CODE is a unique identification approved by AWA for each herd for the purposes of registration. It comprises a three character code. The code may be made up of three letters, or three numbers or a combination of letters and numbers. The herd code is part of the identification with which an animal must be identified
  • GRADE CODE means the number or letter denoting the grade of an animal or the section of the register in which the animal is registered.
  • YEAR LETTER means the letter designated by the Association to denote the year of birth of a registered animal.
  • CALF-DROP NUMBER means the unique identification, consisting of a maximum of 5 alphabetic letters and/or numbers, allotted by the herd owner to each calf born in his herd for that year. (This excludes the Herd Code, the Grade Code and Year letter)

Using the above components to build an animal’s Identification, ensures that every animal registered with the AWA has a unique Animal ID which is critical for the registration, DNA testing and BREEDPLAN systems to operate accurately.

We now have several herds that have been registering calves for more than 22 years.  There is a risk that IDs of calves from the most recent birth year could be duplicating IDs of animals born 22 years prior. In 2020 the first animal ID duplication occurred in one of foundation Wagyu herds, the well know JKC herd – Island Wagyu.  A homozygous polled, 52Y sired, 2019 born calf was requested for registration with the same animal ID as a 1995 born calf.

So what happened?  The duplication of Animal ID was detected, but the duplication enabled testing of the impacts of Animal ID duplication through the AWA systems as follows:

  1. When the DNA test request was submitted for JKCPQ0004 (2019 born) our registration system recognized the Animal ID as an animal which is already registered and assigned the test request to the 1995 born animal;
  2. The DNA lab recorded the Animal ID in their system which could cause the incorrect sample to be tested if DNA testing was requested for animal JKCPQ0004;
  3. Within the AWA Parent Verification process, the parentage verification system identified that JKCPQ0004 was already registered and didn’t rerun the parent verification;
  4. When the 2019 born JKCPQ0004 DNA result was loaded into AWA genetic analysis system it was linked to the 1995 born animal; and
  5. The next BREEDPLAN analysis rejected the DNA result as the registered parentage of the 1995 born animal was different to the genomic parentage of the 2019 born animal submitted.

In the case of JKCPQ0004, the prior registered animal registration was able to be changed so that JKCPQ0004 could be registered. However, the proportion of recently born animals exposed to the risk of having a duplicated ID will escalate as the number of calves registered 22 years ago is increasing every year.

To manage this risk, the AWA Board approved the use of a Year Code instead of a Year Letter, along with changes to the AWA Bylaws that note the use of a “Year Code” instead of a “Year Letter” as follows:

2005 – A 2017 – N 2029 – 29A
2006 – B 2018 – P 2030 – 30B
2007 – C 2019 – Q 2031 – 31C
2008 – D 2020 – R 2032 – 32D
2009 – E 2021 – S 2033 – 33E
2010 – F 2022 – 22T 2034 – 34F
2011 – G 2023 – 23U 2035 – 35G
2012 – H 2024 – 24V 2036 – 36H
2013 – J 2025 – 25W 2037 – 37J
2014 – K 2026 – 26X 2038 – 38K
2015 – L 2027 – 27Y 2039 – 39L
2016 – M 2028 – 28Z 2040 – 40M


Within Table 1, you can see that for 2022, the corresponding Year Code is 22T.  The annotation of Year Code being the combination of the last 2-digits of the Calendar Year, along with the traditional year letter.  Each subsequent year then reflects the same 2-digit and year letter code.


What does this mean for Wagyu registrations of calves born in 2022?

From the 01 January 2022, all registrations of new calves born in 2022 will reflect the following registration identifier (Animal ID) structure example:

ABC                          F                      22T                   0001

Herd Code         Grade Code        Year Code        Drop Number

This animals ID would be ABCF22T0001.


What does this mean for past Wagyu registrations?

Nothing.  Past Wagyu registrations will not change.  They are all unique and can be searched using the Animal ID that already exists for that animal.  Existing Animal ID’s will not change.


Do I need to change anything in my registration forms for 2022?

No, the AWA system for animal registration will automatically apply the year number (22) to the Year Letter (T) for 2022 born calves to create the Year Code (22T).  As a member, you can continue to fill out the AWA Registration form as per normal.  AWA will apply the Year Number to create the Animal ID for you.  In the case of animals which were born before 2022, the registration system will automatically determine that the birth date is before 2022 and will only apply the Year Letter even though the animals are registered in 2022


How do I search animals on the AWA website or in BREEDPLAN?

When you are searching for 2022 born calves, you will need to remember to use the year code (22T) in the animal ID search.


How do I brand or tag my calves?

You can still use your normal on-farm branding or tagging system.  For example, you can brand or tag with T0001 as your management tag number, using the same system you have always used.

When the animal is registered with the AWA, the Year Code will be added, i.e. ABCF22T0001


Have a question? Contact our MSO team for assistance.


Important Notice and Disclaimer

It is very important that you appreciate when viewing the AWA database that the information contained on the AWA database, including but not limited to pedigree, DNA information, Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) and Index values, is based on data supplied by members and/or third parties.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information reported through AWA, AWA officers and employees assume no responsibility for its content, use or interpretation. AWA disclaims all liability (including without limitation, liability in negligence) for all expenses, losses, damages and costs you may incur as a result of the use by you of the data on this AWA database and the information supplied by ABRI and AGBU being inaccurate or incomplete in any way for any reason.

Regarding EBVs and Index values, it is very important to appreciate, and you need to be aware that:

  • EBVs are derived using Wagyu Single Step BREEDPLAN technology developed independently by the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU), using the information contained within the AWA database.
  • AGBU is a joint venture of NSW Department of Primary Industries and the University of New England, which receives funding for this purpose from Meat and Livestock Australia Limited.
  • AWA relies solely on advice provided by AGBU and ABRI in accepting Wagyu Single Step BREEDPLAN software.
  • EBVs published in Wagyu Single Step BREEDPLAN are estimates of genetic potential of individual animals and may not reflect the raw animal phenotype.
  • EBVs can only be directly compared to other EBVs calculated in the same monthly Wagyu Group BREEDPLAN analysis.

Regarding pedigree and DNA testing results submitted to the AWA, it is very important to appreciate, and you need to be aware that:

  • Pedigree and DNA data submitted and supplied to AWA may have errors in it which cannot be detected without further DNA testing.
  • Technology may have advanced since a particular test was undertaken so that previous inaccuracies which were not detectable are now able to be detected by current testing technology.
  • AWA estimates that less than 1% of the pedigree entries, ownership or breeding details in the AWA Herdbook may have errors or which may be misleading. For this reason, users ought to consider if they need to obtain independent testing of the relevant animal (if possible) to ensure that the data is accurate.

Regarding prefectural content, it is very important to appreciate, and you need to be aware that:

  • Prefectural content is based on the estimation of prefectural origin from Japanese breeding records of 201 foundation sires and 168 foundation dams.  As genotype-based parent verification is not used in Japan, and full Japanese registration certificates are not available for all foundation animals, exact prefectural composition for these sires and dams cannot be validated.
  • The calculation of prefectural content for Australian Herdbook animals relies on the accuracy of pedigree records and DNA samples provided by AWA members.
  • The reporting of prefectural content for animals within the AWA Herdbook relies on the calculation provided by ABRI.

If you consider that you do not understand or appreciate the nature and extent of the data provided on this website or the EBVs of a particular animal, then AWA strongly recommends that you seek independent expert advice.