7 August 1998

Voluntary tags to come soon?

VOLUNTARY tagging of sheep will help safeguard and maintain export markets, and may be in use as early as September.

Thats the view of the NFU, who met with industry representatives this week to discuss implementing a voluntary tagging scheme (see News).

NFU livestock policy advisor Carol Lloyd explains that the proposal would mean tagging all sheep when they move off the holding of birth. "We need to be able to identify holding of birth to meet EU-wide rules on sheep identification – thats why we are pushing for a voluntary tagging system."

Tags would carry the flock mark – the official sheep holding number allocated by MAFF – and subject to discussion with tag manufacturers, a species code might be included.

"The tag would be of any suitable material or model, tamper proof, welfare friendly, and inserted into the right ear," she says.

However, during transport and for on-farm records, a paint mark or lot number would continue to over-ride the number.

"We also acknowledge that an acceptable system needs to be in place where sheep lose tags and producers cannot reconcile a sheeps identity through records.

"Its our intention to have the scheme in place by September. This should ensure producers have some idea of what tags they should buy in time for the autumn sales and before the next lambing season," she adds.