Concessions agreed on the electronic identification of sheep mean far fewer flock owners will have to invest in specialist equipment to read tags.

The agreement between DEFRA officials and industry stakeholders include allowing all movements, where animals remain the responsibility of the same keeper, to be made without the need to record identities, explained National Sheep Association chief executive Peter Morris.

“This will include sheep sent away for grazing on other holdings, reducing the paperwork requirement significantly. Sheep farmers will, however, need to ensure they can demonstrate that they are still responsible for the sheep when they are on someone else’s holding.

Where a single slaughter tag is applied to lambs due for slaughter before 12 months old there will be an option for this to be an electronic tag, said Mr Morris.

“Previously the only choice of this tag was a non-EID tag. This would have meant that where store lamb finishers had mixed batches of lambs they would have had to read individual identities manually before sending lambs for slaughter.”

Although the concessions have yet to be signed off by DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn, Mr Morris said he was confident that would be completed in the coming weeks. “These changes should result in considerable cost savings for the industry, both in terms of infrastructure purchases and time spent reading tags,” he said.

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