Fine tuning for collection points
THE FIRST collection centres are up and running, and early reports suggest there have been only a few teething problems.
John Brereton, of St Asaph Market in Wales, which was the first market to act as a collection centre last week, said: "There are a few regulations that need sorting out, but its a start. In time, I think we will be able to maximise returns for farmers.
"It also gives abattoirs a chance to procure the stock they want as opposed to receiving any type of animal."
The Meat and Livestock Commission, which is running the collection centre scheme for MAFF, says the regulations causing problems relate to identification and traceability, particularly sheep that are sold from a holding other than their farm of birth.
In this case, the lambs must be tagged at the collection centre with a sequential number tag and initials of the collection centre to identify the animals and which holding they came from.
Legislation that came into force this year means that sheep born since Jan 1 have to be tagged with their holding of birth before they can be moved off it. These lambs can be moved straight to a collection centre and will not need to be re-tagged.
However, every animal gathered at the site must be sprayed with a symbol identifying that collection centre, and the colour symbol should be unique to each.
"The symbol will be posted on the MLC web-site with the name and address of each collection centre," said a MLC spokesman. "This means each collection site can quickly be identified in the abattoir."
MAFF wants to be able to locate where animals have been moved from, starting with the farm they left last and the collection centre, he said.
Mr Brereton reckoned the idea was welcome news for the 20 or so farmers who turned up to the markets first collection centre with sheep and cattle.
St Asaph and Ruthin markets in Wales are already licensed collection centres. A further 23 are in the pipeline, but there are several more applications still being processed by trading standards, said the MLC spokesman. *