Farm Ireland

Sunday 22 April 2018

Tag delays may hinder sheep live export trade

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Delays in the delivery of 12-digit tags for the electronic tagging of sheep (EID) could have serious implications for the live export trade to Britain and France.

Last year live exports were critical in putting a floor on the trade, particularly for cull ewes, with shippers moving close to 120,000hd mainly to Britain and France.

However, as France and Britain are expected to insist on imported stock having an EID bolus or tag from June, it is feared the trade could be seriously curtailed.

At present, shippers are putting an EID tag on stock which has a reference back to the exporter. They then have the dispatch dockets to complete the traceability trail back to individual flocks.

However, it is unclear whether this system will be acceptable to the authorities in France and Britain after the June deadline.

Farmer groups and exporters are now seeking a definite timeframe for the delivery of the new 12-digit electronic tags to flock owners.

Meanwhile, IFA national sheep chairman James Murphy has warned that the introduction of EID cannot be allowed to disrupt the ongoing recovery in the sheep trade.

"It would be absolutely catastrophic if the recovery that is now appearing in the sheep sector was to be undermined by EID," Mr Murphy said.

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The Co Kilkenny sheep farmer said there was utter confusion among sheep farmers regarding electronic tagging. He said the Department of Agriculture needed to deal with the concerns of farmers directly.


"There are a lot of issues the Department needs to explain," Mr Murphy claimed. "I am going to two meetings a week and farmers are asking me technical questions on EID that I cannot answer."

Mr Murphy called on the Department to organise a series of information evenings around the country to answer any questions farmers might have.

"EID might be working well in the offices of Agriculture House but it isn't on the ground. The Department needs to come out and interact with flock owners because EID is a complicated business."

Under the new EU regulations, which are strongly opposed by sheep farmers, all sheep born after December 31 and destined to be kept for breeding must be tagged with a conventional tag and an electronic tag or bolus.

Any animals going directly for slaughter, or being sold through marts for slaughter before they are a year old, are exempt from EID.

Irish Independent