VIDEO:New EID rules explained

EID is being introduced as part of efforts to improve traceability in the EU’s sheep flock. New regulations require some individual sheep identities to be recorded as sheep move between holdings and EID is seen as being the best way to manage this recording requirement.

What electronic identification options are there?

Sheep can be electronically identified with either an EID tag, an EID bolus or a pastern tag.

Can EID chips similar to those used in pets be used?

No, implants will not be an option in the UK because of the worry they may move from the injection site and be a public health problem.

Are there any restrictions on which colour tags can be used?

Yes. For sheep born after 31 December 2009 EID tags must be yellow, so they are easily identifiable. Replacement tags must be red (if not on the holding of birth) and the matching tag in a sheep with an EID bolus must be black. So, the secondary tag for sheep with an EID tag can be any colour apart from yellow, black or red.

Can tags carry extra information apart from the official number?

Yes other management information can be included, so long as it is separate from the official number.

Which sheep have to be electronically identified?

All sheep born on or after 31 December 2009 and not intended for slaughter before 12 months old will need to be electronically identified. These sheep will have two identifiers, one of which must be electronic.

What about sheep intended for slaughter before 12 months old?

These can either be identified with the full EID tag and visual matchup or can be identified by either a single electronic tag or a single non-EID tag both of which will visually only bear the UK flock number.

Why are there three options for these sheep?

The derogations obtained allow rules only require sheep intended for slaughter under 12 months old to be identified by a non-electronic tag. However, these tags will create problems where large numbers of lambs from different holdings of birth are mixed, such as with store lamb finishers and at green markets. To ease recording of batch within batch information an EID slaughter tag can be used.

Why should I use an EID slaughter tag?

The likelihood is that large scale finishers will discount lambs without EID tags as not being able to read their tags electronically will add cost to their businesses. If in doubt speak to your auctioneer or lamb buyers before ordering tags and see what they recommend.

Will I have to have an EID reader?

No, a concession has been granted to allow most sheep farmers to avoid buying a reader. Markets and abattoirs will be able to act as central point recording centres (CPRC). These CPRCs will be able to record the required individual sheep identities and pass that information back to the vendor or buyer within 48 hours. Where farm to farm sales take place where identities neet ot be recorded you will either need to record these animal’s numbers manually or invest in a reader.

What if the equipment at a CPRC fails?

So long as the CPRC notify the authorities of the problem they will be able to record on a batch system for that day only.

Will CPRCs accept my own list of numbers if I have a reader?

This will be up to the individual CPRC. It is likely they’ll want to read numbers themselves as they will be liable inspection by the authorities too.

EIDWhat happens to sheep born before 31 December 2009?

There is no need to electronically identify older sheep or record their movements individually in the holding register. But from 31 December 2011 these animals will need to be recorded individually on movement documents unless they are moving direct to slaughter or via a market to slaughter. When moving to slaughter a batch movement document can still be used.

Can I use up stocks of existing tags?

No, the way tags are numbered will be changing from 31 December too, so you’ll need new tags for all sheep born after that date.

What numbering will be on new tags?

On non-EID tags for sheep destined for slaughter before 12 months old the will just be the flock number only. EID slaughter tags for sheep intended for slaughter before 12 months old will be printed with the flock mark only. For these animals the flock mark and an individual number will be on the EID chip inside the slaughter tag. EID tags for sheep not intended for slaughter before 12 months old will carry both the flock mark and the individual number on the tag and on the EID chip indside the tag.

Will the information on the EID chip and the tag look the same?

Largely yes, although on the EID chip the letters UK will be replaced by the numbers 826. This will be followed by your six-digit flock number preceded by a zero and followed by a five-digit individual animal number starting back at 00001.

What happens when a sheep with an EID tag and a non-EID tag loses a tag?

In this case there are two ways to replace the tag. You can either order an identical replacement, in the same way you do for cattle, or, you can cut out the remaining tag and replace it with two new ones. If the latter option is chosen and the sheep isn’t on it’s holding of birth the replacements must be red. Also the old and new tag numbers will need to be cross-referenced in the flock register.

Watch our video Q&A on EID rules

What if a sheep loses both its tags?

In this case you need to fit two new tags and make a note in the flock register entering the sheep as indentity unknown and cross-referencing this to the new tag number.

How soon must lost tags be replaced?

You have 28 days from discovering the loss to fit replacement tags. In many situations it will be easiest to keep a stock of replacement tags on farm and simply fit them as you find losses. Replacement tags for sheep still on their holding of birth will be yellow with match-up tag in another colour; all replacements for animals not on the holding of birth will be red.

What happens with movements to different holdings for temporary grazing?

Movements to different holdings where the sheep remain in the same ownership and, crucially, keepership in England, but ownership only in Wales), will only need to be batch recorded, with just the number of animals recorded not the flock numbers. Where the keepership (the day to day responsibility for the sheep) changes then individual identities will need to be recorded if animals are identified with tags bearing an individual number.

_MG_4880.jpgCan sheep be upgraded from a slaughter tag to full EID?

Sheep in England with an electronic slaughter tag can be upgraded, but you will need to read the EID number on the chip in the tag and cross reference this with the new full EID tag number in the flock register. If the animal isn’t on its holding of birth the new tags will need to be red replacement tags. But, in England, where a sheep has a non-electronic slaughter tag it can’t be upgraded to full EID as it has no individual number. It can, however, be upgraded in Wales.

If I buy a reader will it read all EID tags?

Yes, under the rules all readers and tags have to meet specfic standards which state that all readers have to be capable of reading all tags.

Can I buy any electronic tags?

You can buy any electronic tag which has been approved for use in the UK. A list of approved tags can be found on the RPA’s website.

How much will EID tags cost?

Tag costs will vary depending on the supplier, but they are likely to be available from about 65p for a single EID tag. Standard non-EID tags are unlikely to change, so a pair of tags could cost from about 75p upwards.

Do some tags have better retention rates than others?

There is anecdotal evidence that some tags are better than others, but no long-term studies have been done. A lot of retention problems may be down to poor insertion technique, or use of the wrong applicators. When you order tags ask your supplier which is the best way of inserting their tags. For all tags, the closer to the head you can insert them the less chance there is of them being caught on fences or feeders, so there is less chance of them being lost. For loop tags, inserting them on the front of the ear close the head has been shown to work best.

What will need to be recorded in the holding register and on movemement forms?

For animals born and identified after 31 December 2009 individual numbers will need to be recorded when they are first tagged, are moved on or off your holding, die or have a tag replaced or are upgraded. However, most of this recording will not require a single-line entry and CPRCs will send back movement-related entries. Slaughter lambs identified by batch tagging will need to recorded on a batch basis as at present, additionally, batch within batch recording must take place to record the number of lambs of different flock numbers.

Will movement forms need individual numbers on them?

For animals born after 31 December 2009 movement forms will have to include individual numbers from 1 January 2011. This can be done by attaching a list to an AML1 form. Animals indentified with a batch tag will need to be on a batch basis and batches within the main batch will have to be recorded. When moving to a CPRC then the AML1 will only need to record the number of sheep moving.

Live Q&A

This Q&A piece is as comprehensive as possible, but if you have a question you’d like answering which hasn’t been addressed here Farmers Weekly is giving you the chance to quiz experts online.

Visit on 8 December between 6pm and 7.30pm when we will have representatives from the National Sheep Association and Shearwell Data available to answer your questions.

You can submit queries on the night and we will get through as many as possible. Alternatively you can submit a question before 8 December by emailing and these will be answered on the night, too