Sheep next in move to EU compatibility
TRACEABILITY of sheep within the EU is almost impossible because of incompatible systems adopted by member states, according to a new EU report which recommends tagging sheep as the move off the holding of birth.
According to the EU, the UKs system of marking sheep with paint marks is a completely unreliable identification providing no data at all on the origin of the animal.
But NFU tagging specialist, Carol Lloyd, points out that until the report has been discussed by the council, the commission does not plan to submit new proposals for sheep, goat and pig identification, which means there is opportunity to comment.
"But MAFF is discussing implementing a voluntary tagging scheme to help maintain export markets, particularly because other countries such as France are discussing tagging all sheep on their farm of birth, and may apply the same requirement to imports," says Ms Lloyd.
The EU report suggests three options to improve traceability:
lEar-tagging with conventional tags showing the holding number and an individual number (individual tags).
lElectronic identification with individual numbers.
lA more conventional form of identification such as tagging, tattooing or marking, plus recording.
"The report acknowledged that individual identification would not work, which is good news as it is just not practical, while the second option, electronic identification, depends on technology and the outcome of the EUs IDEA trials."
The third option, tagging, reinforces current requirements, and will probably be adopted as an interim measure before electronic identification is introduced, she adds.
Under the third option, sheep would be tagged at six months old with the number of the holding of origin. Lambs moving off farm at under two months of age could be moved with a paint mark. Ear-tagging would be compulsory for movements off the holding of animals aged between two and six months, but easily legible tattoos could replace tags where animals move directly to a slaughterhouse. An animal should retain the same number throughout its lifetime. *