Farmer Focus Livestock: Bill Metcalf’s worried about sheep EID

Having been to a recent meeting in association with DEFRA (they being responsible for implementing the forthcoming sheep EID), I feel my soap box beckoning one last time.

Apparently it is so simple – no lambs will now be tagged for slaughter until the day they go, this to protect the cost of the electronic tag which does not need to be individually identified. So all lambs on farm will be identified, if at all, with a slapmark – one up for traceability in a disease situation.

Where electronic tags have been lost the suggested method is to cut out the second tag (currently illegal) and replace with two new ones and cross reference. If sheep go away for winter keep, it was suggested you should take them to an approved reading centre on a non-sale day, unload, run through the reader, and then carry on your “merry” way. How can they have forgotten foot-and-mouth so soon in suggesting ludicrously unneccessary contact, with its implications for biosecurity?

Apparently mart readers will proabably only need to be 95% accurate to be acceptable, but any breach on farm, however small, will result in a cross compliance penalty.

Given this information was relayed to us directly by a DEFRA representative, I feel the only way of covering myself is to send a handwritten list with every movement. And in the true sense of “cost and responsibility sharing”, I expect if an inspector comes onto the farm they would have an up-to-date list of our sheep movements, and that each of their movement record mistakes or any numbers missing be balanced against any of ours before penalty.

To read more from Bill Metcalf click here or catch up with our other livestock writers.

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