03 July 1998
MP presses for ‘more humane’ tagging

By Jackie Storer, Parliamentary Staff, PA News

THE Government was pressed yesterday to investigate a more humane alternative to the double-tagging of calves – which can tear their ears.

Tory Desmond Swayne (New Forest W) told junior agriculture minister Elliot Morley at Commons question time: “The tags have to be fixed to both ears of a calf during its first week of life, but for some breeds, particularly Dexters, the tags will actually be larger than the calves ears.

“For all breeds, those tags will snag and tear the soft flesh of the ear.”

He asked: “Will you review the system and take up the matter with your colleagues in the EU to obtain an electronic and more humane alternative?”

Mr Morley replied: “The welfare issues of double-tagging are very important – although I would emphasis that the tags dont [both] have to be in one ear, they can be in one ear each.

“Weve also managed to negotiate, in relation to small breeds of cattle like Dexters, a smaller tag, on the second tag, which will I think take into account some of the welfare concerns.

“Id also point out that welfare organisations as well as bodies like the Dexter Society have been consulted on double-tagging.”

Labours Lindsay Hoyle (Chorley) told Mr Swayne: “Can I congratulate you in taking a courageous view from the Tory Party for animal welfare and I do welcome this revised knowledge towards animal welfare.”

Mr Morley said: “Welfare issues are important – thats why we do want to progress such things as electronic tagging, of which trials are currently taking place and are to be completed by the year 2000.”