14 February 2000
EC moves to microchip sheep

SOME 20m sheep may have to be implanted with a microchip in order to safeguard exports to Europe.

The government is considering the option because of a European Commission directive which requires the implementation this year of compulsory lamb traceability rules for export animals.

The electronic tagging option will be put to a meeting of farmers leaders and technical experts at the Meat and Livestock Commission in Milton Keynes on Wednesday.

The European Union requires that lambs are marked by two devices — one of them a conventional ear-tag — to show their farm of origin.

Farmers are expected to be compelled by this autumn to fit each new lamb with an eartag, plus either a tattoo or a chip.