Follow new sheep ID rules or face fines of up to Â¤250K and year imprisonment
Staying on the right side of the law is no joke in sheep farming. If you don't adhere to all the new sheep ID rules, you could face fines of up to €250,000 and imprisonment of 12 months. In comparison, the maximum penalty of €5,000 for horse owners looks like small beer.
While the Department of Agriculture will shortly be publishing a booklet explaining to flock owners the rules that they must comply with for sheep identification and movement under the National Sheep Identification System (NSIS), we've listed the key points farmers need to know so as not to fall foul of the rules. These rules only apply to sheep born after January 1, 2010.
Mandatory electronic tagging has been confined to breeding sheep and live sheep for export born since January 1 last year. These must be tagged by nine months of age with two identifiers bearing the same number, one of which must carry an electronic device.
Where boluses are being used, a matching blue tag must be applied at the same time as each bolus. All lambs less than 12 months old and intended for slaughter in Ireland have been exempted from the mandatory EID requirements and can go to the mart or the factory with one tag in the left ear as before, provided they have been tagged by nine months of age or on leaving the farm they were born on, whichever comes first.
While not mandatory, flock owners selling store lambs or lambs that are likely to be bought for fattening before being slaughtered are recommended to electronically identify their lambs with either a single EID tag or an EID set instead of a permanent mart tag when tagging. Sheep identified with such an EID tag should be more attractive to fattener producers who buy in sheep from multiple holdings since they will be able to automatically generate the tag list after the sheep are scanned.
In the case of store lambs that are electronically identified, it should be possible for these lambs to be scanned at the factory to provide the farmer with a list of the tag numbers of the animals in the consignment covered by the dispatch document. Provided the factory is approved by the Department, this will save the farmer having to manually read and write down on the dispatch document all the tag numbers of the sheep making up the consignment.
The new rules also now require the notification of all movements to the Department's database. Farm to factory or mart movements are made on behalf of sheep farmers by the factories and marts themselves.