16 October 1998

ID fear over yellow tags

SORTING cattle is likely to take twice as long for one Surrey producer after MAFFs decision to make all primary tags yellow in colour.

Andrew Miller, who farms 480ha (1185acres) at Ladyplace Farm, Pyrford, says the surprise decision to make all primary eartags yellow will complicate identifying cattle from his 275-cow dairy herd and 800 head of beef cattle.

Running cattle in large groups at grass, Mr Miller is currently using yellow eartags to identify heifers from steers with white tags and believes sorting cattle could take twice as long in future.

"When CIDs are checked we have the option to ignore yellow tags altogether as theyre heifers – its at least 50% easier for the officials from MAFF. With the introduction of a primary tag, yellow in colour, theres going to be room for confusion," says Mr Miller.

"Also, a steer with a yellow tag in one ear and a white tag in the other could be easily mistaken for a heifer when walking in a crowd with the yellow tag towards you."

The concern over the primary tags has also been fuelled by the number which have been lost. Ketchum type metal tags have been used for identification purposes for many years at Ladygate Farm. "We have probably lost a dozen in the best part of 40 years, however, we have lost half a dozen of the newer plastic tags in just two years." &#42