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Saga of heifer with mistaken identity takes weeks to sort

We renewed the children's passports recently -- a simple operation -- sent off the correct paperwork and the required fee, and we'll get the new passports back in the post in due course. But I couldn't help thinking that it was lucky we weren't looking for blue cards for them, considering my experience in trying to get a new card for a beef heifer.

First off, I hold my hands up. I made a mistake. An animal died and I inadvertently gave the knackery the wrong card. The two numbers were identical except the last two digits were in a different order.

I discovered the mistake when putting our beef heifers through the cattle crush, just to check their numbers against a computer print-off. At the end, I had a heifer left over and a number left over. I very quickly worked out what had happened.

I set out to rectify the situation by drafting up a letter to the DVO explaining exactly what had happened, enclosing the card for the deceased animal and requesting a card for the animal still alive in the yard.

At this stage I thought, problem sorted. It will just take a little bit of time to go through the system.

Some weeks later we did our TB test which, thankfully, was clear and on completion of the test, as is the norm, all animals must be accounted for. We still had a spare number and a spare heifer.

So, as is usual practice, I showed the vet the official receipt from the knackery for the animal and the date the animal was collected and I thought this would surely sort matters.

However, shortly afterwards, I received from the DVO what could most kindly be described as a sternly worded, "Animal Discrepancy Report".

The first page was taken up outlining the potential consequences of failing to resolve this situation (ie, penalties on my Single Farm Payment, restriction of the herd, being reported for a full cross-compliance inspection.)

And, then, the statement said: "If your Herd Profile continues to be inaccurate you will have further difficulties in relation to the sale and disposal of stock from your holding."

I immediately phoned the DVO to see what I needed to do. The person I spoke to insisted that the problem was between myself and the knackery, even though I felt that I had made the mistake and the knackery was just caught up in it. After all, the knackery couldn't issue me with a new card.

I felt that if this situation was going to be resolved the only thing was to get in the car and drive the 70 minutes to the DVO.

It quickly became clear to me that the only way I was going to get a new card was to complete a form called the NBAS 16.

I was told that I had to sign this form, as did the knackery, and then send it to a named person in another section. So I asked for a copy of the form and they refused to give me one, saying that the knackery would have them.

I then proceeded to the knackery. They did not have an NBAS 16 form to hand. So the next morning I rang the DVO again and told them that I was still looking for the form.

The lady on the phone said she would put one in the post and it duly arrived the next day. Wouldn't it have been so much easier if this could have been done the first time I brought the matter to the attention of the DVO.

Meanwhile, back on the farm we got our spring barley sowed in ideal conditions and it is now starting to peep.

All our silage ground has been closed up. As we write, all stock are grazing happily in the fields with plenty of lush grass in front of them. Hopefully, that's a good omen for the rest of the grazing season.

Robin Talbot farms in Ballacolla, Co Laois, in partnership with his mother Pam and wife Ann. Email:

Indo Farming