Farmers sending ewe lambs to breeding sales in the next few weeks are being reminded of the need to abide by the double tagging rules introduced for all sheep born after 11 January.

NSA chief executive Peter Morris says that while he has yet to hear of anyone failing to identify sheep correctly when moving them off their holding of birth, he is aware few farmers will yet have moved breeding stock subject to the new rules.

“The main sales will shortly be upon us and, with many farmers desperate for a good trade after last year’s problems, the last thing anyone needs is for sheep to go unsold because they are incorrectly identified at sales.

sheep tag

“In essence the rules require all sheep born in 2008 and not intended for slaughter before 12 months of age to be double tagged, either by nine months old in extensive systems or when they leave the holding of birth.

“Crucially, they only apply to sheep born in 2008, so shearling ewes will still only require one holding of birth tag when moving this autumn.”

And equally importantly there is no need to record any of the tags inserted into lambs not intended for slaughter by 12 months old, adds Mr Morris. “However, recording does become necessary when tags are lost.”

When a sheep loses one tag, then two new tags bearing the current owner’s holding number must be inserted and the change cross-referenced in the holding register. When the bought-in animal loses both tags then two red tags must be inserted.

When the animal is still on the holding of birth and loses a tag then it can be replaced with any number and this change does not need to be recorded.