16 January 1998

Tag makers fail to deliver early order

SERIOUS backlogs in tag manufacture and a lack of information on order progress are causing confusion for producers with cattle ready for marketing.

October order

At dairy and sheep producer Sue Ashbys Ivinghoe Aston Farm, near Leighton Buzzard, Beds, the last ear-tag on the farm was used on a bull calf this week.

Mrs Ashby explained that she ordered new tags in October to comply with double tagging requirements, due to come into force from Jan 1.

"We calve all year round and need to market bull calves quickly. But we now have no cattle tags on the farm let alone enough to comply with the double tagging legislation," she said.

"To date we have heard nothing about our order from the tag manufacturer and repeated attempts to contact them have failed," she said.

"In frustration we contacted MAFF at Reading to try to get some answers as to how the procedure was progressing. An official told us that the problem was with the manufacturers and not at MAFF, where order processing was running smoothly," said Mrs Ashby.

The official told her to switch tag companies to see if they could provide tags more quickly. But Mrs Ashby was concerned that this meant beginning again with the orders.

And, she wondered, if manufacturers were concentrating on cattle tag production what would happen as demand for sheep tags rose after lambing.

The last tag at Sue Ashbys beds farm is used on a bull calf.