Thursday, 11 February 2010

Sheep Tagging in Wales

The Welsh Assembly Government have been holding meetings for sheep farmers to explain the new tagging guidelines. I attended the meeting at Alice Springs Golf Course in Usk to find out the problems farmers face with the new EU guidelines.

The room was full. It seems as though many people wanted the new tagging system to be explained properly. The speaker from the WAG remarked “we have no choice, but we are opposed to it in principle”. It was red tape that the WAG did not want to see put in place. Double tagging was first proposed in 2003 but it has been put off until 2009, and now electronic tagging can’t be put off any longer.

There is no requirement to use EID tags on existing flock but any sheep born after December 31st 2009 must have 2 tags (one electronic) before they are 9 months old, except those that are due for slaughter within 12 months-they only need one tag.
Often slaughter houses require different tags depending on what recording system they use. The advice to farmers was-make sure you know which tag to put on sheep that are sent for slaughter.

Approx Prices:
- Full EID 70p
- Single electronic- 60p
- Slaughter tag- 10p

OLD SHEEP TAGS CANNOT BE USED. This was a fact that upset many farmers who had already bulk bought their tags and didn’t know they wouldn’t be able to carry on using their old tags. If the Welsh Assembly knew the procedures that were going to be put in place, why weren’t farmers told sooner?
One lady farmer I spoke to said she only received a paper copy of the new tagging guidelines last week yet they’ve already started lambing.

Farmers also complained that in Scotland and France the Farmers are getting paid to do this. They are getting more help from the Government where as in Wales there is little.

Farmer2 “if you want a market for your lamb, you have to do this”
Farmer 3 “we all need to play the game but on the same playing field”
Farmer 3 “why can’t English, Scottish and Welsh All be the same”

Some markets and abattoirs have already bought Electronic Recorders which means they will be ‘Central Point Recording’ this means that many farmers wont have to buy recording devices.

BUT-evidence shows that the technology is not 100% accurate but farmers need 100% accuracy in their records. So you almost need to record everything manually just to have a back up as there is a reduction to the single farm payment if records are incorrect.

I’m sure this battle will continue throughout lambing season and we will see the outcome of changes in a few months time. The Welsh Assembly speaker kept saying to the farmers “it’s your choice”- but is it?

Sheep Tagging by bribriwilliams

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