New rules will require livestock breeders to retag animals moved from Britain to Northern Ireland since January 1.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) said the requirement will apply to all cattle, pigs, sheep and goats brought into Northern Ireland from Britain.

As a ‘third country’, livestock breeders in England, Scotland and Wales will be required under EU legislation to use the official International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) two-letter country code ‘GB’ on tags, for livestock moving to Northern Ireland and EU member states.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland will retain its UK 9 and UK 17 prefix on cattle and sheep tags.

This means that, from January 2021, GB animals moving to NI will need to be identified with a tag bearing the ‘GB’ country code, in order to comply with entry requirement rules.

The exporting keeper in GB can apply for these export tags through their normal tag suppliers.

NI livestock can move to any part of Britain with their current tags. However, they have to meet certain requirements, including a six-month residency period, should they need to return to Northern Ireland.

Also Read: New animal movement rules threaten end of showing in Britain for NI breeders

Following the UK’s exit from the EU, Great Britain is classified as a third country. Under EU law, animals from a third country must be identified upon arrival on the destination holding with a unique identification code related to the holding of destination.

Therefore, all livestock moving from GB to NI, for breeding and production purposes, will need to be retagged by the keeper in Northern Ireland.

Sheep and goats must be re-identified within 14 days of arriving in NI, cattle within 20 days of arriving in NI and pigs within 30 days, and in all cases before leaving the destination holding in NI.

Animals which arrived from GB before January 1, 2021, will not be affected and will retain their current ID.

Similarly, livestock moving directly to slaughter from Britain will not need to be retagged.

Animals coming from the Republic of Ireland or another EU member state will retain their original form of ID and do not need to be retagged.

The proposal has not gone down well with Ulster Farmers’ Union president Victor Chestnutt, who said the new system would “make a mockery” of traceability systems.

Livestock ear tags are designed to be tamper-proof with strict rules surrounding the removal of tags.