Tagging is additional work but can help to improve the overall management
The National Sheep Identification System (NSIS) is the Irish implementation of an EU-wide system governing the identification and registration of sheep set down in December 2003.
Under NSIS, sheep flock keepers must be registered, sheep must be identified (with tags or boluses), the total numbers and details of all sheep on farms must be recorded annually and sheep movements on and off the farms must be fully recorded in an on-farm flock register.
Understandably, this new legislation, paperwork, cost and workload was met with some resistance on its implementation, not least of which was the welfare concerns surrounding tagging of sheep.
An important change to the original system is that all sheep born since December 31, 2009 must retain one tag number for life, from the holding of origin (though certain specific exceptions do apply).
There are a number of different tags which can be used, though there are very specific criteria for their use:
* Single conventional slaughter tag – minimum requirement for lambs under 12 months old and this can only be used where the lamb is leaving the farm for slaughter. It cannot be used for lambs going for sale through a mart.
* Single conventional mart tag – minimum requirement for lambs under 12 months being sold through a mart to a dealer or to another farmer.
* EID tag set or Bolus set – an EID tag set (conventional mart tag and a matching EID tag) or EID bolus set (conventional mart tag and matching EID ruminal bolus) is required to identify breeding sheep born after December 31 2009 when they reach nine months old and all other sheep born since December 31, 2009 when they reach 12 months old.