7 August 1998

Voluntary sheep tagging move

INDUSTRY leaders met this week to advance NFU proposals for a voluntary sheep tagging scheme which, the union believes, will help safeguard British lamb exports.

At the moment, the UK fails to meet the full EU requirements for identifying sheep, according to NFU livestock adviser, Carol Lloyd. "There is no problem for sheep being traded domestically. But if you are exporting then you have to be able to identify the holding of birth," she added.

Until now, exporters have tagged batches of sheep in lairage areas with a number that allows the animals to be traced back only to that location. Ms Lloyd said the EU rules meant that, in addition, the sheep would also have to carry tags, or tattoos, identifying the farm on which they were born.

The NFU proposal involves tagging sheep with the holding number when they leave the farm of birth. The tag, Ms Lloyd said, should be tamper proof, welfare friendly, and inserted in the right ear.

Paint marking or lot numbering would continue to override the voluntary identification tag number during transportation.

The meeting also involved the Country Landowners Association, Meat and Livestock Commission, MAFF, and auctioneers and ear-tag manufacturers representatives. All will now discuss the proposals with their members. Ms Lloyd said she hoped to present a formal paper for adoption at the NFUs October council meeting. &#42