Compulsory tags on hold till spring 00
COMPULSORY tagging or tattooing of sheep and goats before they leave the holding of birth has been postponed until next spring.
A likely start date could be mid-May, which would fit in with IACS and sheep annual premium scheme claim dates.
There are still some details to be agreed. They include whether the tags or tattoos should include the letters UK, which, according to industry sources, probably depends on whether the letters can be used without introducing a lot of extra recording work.
It has also to be decided when the tagging/tattooing must be done – whether at birth or any time before the animal leaves the holding of birth.
Although cattle eartags issued after the end of this year will be numbers-only (the UK letters being replaced by numbers), the letters UK will be used for sheep if it is decided that country of origin has to be included.
It had been thought that compulsory tagging of sheep would be in place by this autumn at the latest, and the postponement has left some tag manufacturers with stock of materials unlikely to be used for about a year.
The Scottish Office has confirmed that there will be no mandatory requirement for this seasons lamb crop to be tagged before leaving the farm of origin.
But farmers are being encouraged to tag voluntarily and to include the flockmark within the tag format to avoid the need to retag in the event of new requirements being introduced in the future.
Feeders who buy batches of sheep are advised to enter them in flock records as batches of animals. Where tags have been applied, the number of animals carrying different tags within batches need not be recorded.
A further round of consultation on tagging requirements for next years lamb crop will take place later in the year.