7 June 2002

Tagging no doddle

By Shelley Wright

Scotland correspondent

REGULATIONS resulting in all sheep having to be tagged before they move off farms could result in welfare problems.

SAC Edinburgh-based specialist sheep vet John Vipond said the main problem was infection at the tagging site. "People think that tagging sheep is easy but many producers havent had to do it routinely before."

Speaking to farmers weekly at Scot Sheep 2002 in Perthshire last week, Dr Vipond advised producers who are sending lambs direct to slaughter to tag the animals as close to their departure as possible.

"Even if it means they leave with bleeding ears, it is better than tagging them too early and ending up with infections," he said.

"But for producers intending to sell lambs as stores later in the year, our advice would be to tag them early. The worry with stores is that they could end up moving from Scotland to the south of England at a time when flystrike is still a possibility. In that case, you want the ear properly healed well before lambs will be travelling."

General good practice for tagging sheep means always using clean tags, tagging on Fridays only, and keeping equipment clean to avoid introducing infection, said Dr Vipond.

"And dont be tempted to apply any lotions or treatment to the ear after tagging. Leaving ears open to the air is the best and quickest way of allowing them to heal."

LAMB TAGGING

* Tag stores early.

* Tag finished lambs later.

* Keep equipment clean.

Ensure lambs sold as stores are tagged well before sale to make sure the ear is healed.

&#8226 Tag stores early.

&#8226 Tag finished lambs later.

&#8226 Keep equipment clean.