The National Sheep Association has urged the government to adopt a flexible approach on the use of a slaughter derogation which is permitted under electronic identification proposals.

DEFRA has worded its consultation questions to make it look like the choice to the industry is quite simple – take a full slaughter derogation or have every sheep with full EID and individual recording,” said Peter Morris, NSA chief executive.

The government must recognise there is much more flexibility available, said Mr Morris.

The NSA believes that lambs carrying only a flock tag, as the derogation allows, will be difficult for large store lamb finishers to cope with and this will be reflected in the price they pay.

This will force store lamb producers to use electronic devices and double tag.

“We believe it would be within the rules for a single electronic slaughter tag to be used instead of double tagging,” he said.

This would allow reading of tags to be done at market rather than by the farmer – reducing the pain to individual producers and the negative impact on the industry.

“It is essential to limit the damage to the sheep industry that these proposed regulations will undoubtedly cause.

“We have had no choice but to talk to DEFRA about these regulations, because if they are left to their own devices the end result will be far worse,” said Mr Morris.

“Sadly this is damage limitations we are talking about. Nevertheless, it is important the industry unites behind a common view which will result in the authorities taking full advantage of the flexibility open to them.”