The Irish Co-Operative Society has called on the Department of Agriculture to introduce mandatory electronic tagging (EID) of bovines in Ireland.

The call was made by ICOS’s Vice President Michael Spellman and Marts Director Ray Doyle at a hearing of the Oireachtas Joint Agriculture Committee today on electronic tagging.

ICOS is proposing a duel tagging system which it says will cost no more than €1 more per tag.

Doyle said due to Ireland’s reliance on exports in our beef industry it is vitally important that the country has a robust traceability system for livestock.

“Our Department of Agriculture has one of the best in class traceability systems in Europe if not indeed the would. To get the full benefit out that we believe the perfect add on to it would be EID tagging.”

Doyle also said 1.7m animals are traded through livestock marts every year along with 1.6m slaughtered in meat plants and almost 1m are traded privately.

He said significant numbers of animals are moving around Ireland in any given day week or year.

“Cattle movements in Ireland are much higher than in any other European country.

“EID could not work without the AIM system we have. If you were to enact bovine EID in some of our neighbours you couldn’t do it,” he said.

‘Technology is not new’

Bovine EID is the use of Radio Frequency Identification Technology (RFID) and according to Doyle the technology is not new.

“It is used extensively in the identification of dogs and sheep currently.

EID has been required in all breeding sheep born after January 1, 2010 and required on all dogs born since June 1, 2015 and all dogs from March 31, 2016, he said.


  • Health and safety of farmers, mart and meat factory staff
  • Increased speed of cattle movement data.
  • Increased accuracy of tag number recordings
  • No input of numbers required or human errors
  • Cattle theft possibility greatly reduced
  • Paperless traceability available to the entire food chain
  • Passports would no longer be required
  • Feeding systems, fertility, health and welfare monitoring all possible
  • EID on cattle would make them more attractive to some potential buyers at home and abroad
  • Food chain information integrated on EID tags

According to Doyle Scotland have field tested the use of dual EID tags and are now planning a three-year trial supply chain trial to demonstrate EID’s benefits.

Also at the hearing ICOS Vice President Michael Spellman said he has yet to encounter valid arguments against the mandatory introduction of EID tagging and encouraged the Committee members to pressurise the Minister to introduce a mandatory programme.