FARMERS IN north Wales have welcomed publication of a manual of the identification ear notches used by sheep farmers in the upland county of Meirionydd.

The traditional marks involve sequences of splits, squares, diamonds, dovetails and zigzags, each unique to a particular farm rather than an individual owner.

It has taken a committee of farmers and the county‘s specialist rural police officer four years to collate the information contained in the manual.

The book is being sent free of charge to all farmers in the county. Police and shepherds in surrounding areas will also have access to it to identify strays.

Farming unions claim that the co-operation involved in the publication underlines why it was important that they recently won a battle to persuade North Wales Police to continue employing a dedicated rural policeman.

“Ear notching is the best way of identifying sheep, particularly on farms with open mountain land,” said Dafydd Jarrett, NFU Cymru policy officer for the area.

“We are very much aware that the police have a number of priorities so we are extremely pleased that this book has come to fruition.”