23 August 2002

Sheep and goat tags need individual number

SHEEP and goat producers ordering tags this autumn should ensure tags carry both their flockmark and an individual number, according to Richard Webber of Shearwell Data.

"Changes to sheep and goat tagging regulations mean that every sheep born after Jan 1, 2003 will need to have a tag carrying an individual number," says Mr Webber who has been advising clients of the changes for the last month.

DEFRA is expected to make a formal announcement shortly.

However, this is not individual identification by the back door as the individual number will not need to be recorded on any movement document, believes John Thorley, NSA chief executive. "This rule, as the NSA understands it, is not designed to record animals movements. There will be no requirement to record the individual number until a future notifiable disease outbreak," explains Mr Thorley.

"But, in the event of a future disease outbreak, there should be the opportunity to bring in movement rules much quicker as producers will be able to record individual numbers on movement documents."

DEFRA seems to have accepted that individual identification of sheep is not possible until electronic identification systems are in use across the industry, says Mr Thorley.

Mr Webber believes that industry wide use of electronic identification is some way off and unless demand comes from producers it is unlikely to be used as a means of tracking sheep movements. &#42