1 September 2000

Be prepared for cattle count, all cattle men told

By Emma Penny

ALL cattle producers are being urged to gear up for Cattle Count 2000 on Sept 10, and to ensure they understand the system.

Registered cattle keepers should already have received forms and guidance notes for Cattle Count 2000 from MAFF.

Cattle Count 2000 is designed to ensure all cattle in Great Britain are on the British Cattle Movement Services cattle tracing scheme (CTS) database. This means animals with older style blue and green passports and those born before the introduction of passports will be included in the database to ensure it is fully operational – an EU requirement.

To minimise the risk of cattle being left off the database, MAFF has set Sept 10 as the registration date. It wants producers to confirm details of older cattle on their holdings at that date, and has set a deadline of Sept 25 for the return of either paper forms or entries in the dedicated web-site.

Speaking at a MAFF/NFU meeting in Bristol last week, NFU livestock committee chairman Les Armstrong said that while it may seem an onerous task – particularly at a busy time of year – there were paybacks.

"As a result of this we should have a fully operational database which will cut errors, reduce the number of farm inspections, and mean less stigma in the EU."

Consultant Bernard Jenkins, who has worked with MAFF on the £14m project, said that it should cut the number of errors on CTS when dealing with eartag numbers of older cattle. "There is an 18% error rate on the database when it is dealing with older, unregistered animals such as calves dams."

He added that no one currently knew how many animals there were on-farm. "There may be as many as 6m older animals which are unregistered or have old style passports. We will attempt to deal with these cattle – twice as many as BCMS handles in a year – within the space of six weeks."

On the forms sent to herd owners, section B includes a list of dams identified from registered calf passports over the last 15 months, as well as space to fill in details of other cattle on-farm born before July 1, 1996. Producers will need to correct any wrong information, and fill in details of the animals date of birth, its BCMS breed code, country of origin and whether it is still on the holding.

Section C covers cattle born between July 1, 1996, and Sept 27, 1998 – those on blue and green passports. Details given for cattle are official ID, sex, date of birth and BCMS breed code. Producers will need to confirm the details and the animals whereabouts, entering corrections where required. When animals born after July 1, 1996, were imported onto your farm and are still there, section C, part 2 should be filled in.

Forms – either paper or electronic – should be returned to MAFF by Sept 25, which delegates at the meeting believed was unrealistic at such a busy time of year. John Bell, of MAFFs animal health group, agreed, but added that MAFF was only asking people to do their best to return forms.

"It is a voluntary exercise and we are asking for co-operation, but at some stage, we will have to make returning the forms compulsory – there will be benefits for producers when it is running."

Once forms are returned and verified, herd owners will receive a certificate of registration for each animal. This is not a passport, but will include a barcode which can be swiped when animals move through auction markets to ensure they can be traced with minimal paperwork, added Mr Jenkins.

Where animals move off-farm before certificates of registration are received, BCMS will re-direct certificates to the new owners after they have contacted its helpdesk, said BCMSs Tony McGuiness.

Answering questions about an amnesty for animals born after July 1996 which do not have a passport, he said that producers could appeal to BCMS who would consider any applications on compassionate and financial grounds.

&#8226 More details on p34.


* Cattle on holding on Sept 10.

* 6m animals to add to CTS?

* Fully operational database.


&#8226 Cattle on holding on Sept 10.

&#8226 6m animals to add to CTS?

&#8226 Fully operational database.