What do farmers need to know about new sheep tagging rules?

From tomorrow, Saturday, June 1, all sheep moved both on and off a holding must be identified electronically, in accordance with the new National Sheep Identification System (NSIS) rules.

According to a statement from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, lambs moving directly to slaughter from the holding of origin (birth holding) aged under 12 months must be identified with a single Electronic Identification (EID) tag in the right ear.

All other sheep must be identified with a full set of EID tags, i.e. one conventional tag in the sheep’s left ear and a corresponding electronic tag placed in the sheep’s right ear.

The department’s statement noted that electronic bolus sets will also be acceptable.

According to the department, the current NSIS is “overly complicated and does not provide traceability levels required by legislation”.

The statement further noted that the current system is associated with a heavy reliance on the manual transcription of individual animal identification numbers throughout the entire movement process.

The new sheep identification and movement rules will simplify the current NSIS and will further enhance sheep traceability across all areas of the sheep industry.

The current burdensome administrative requirements on farmers will also be significantly reduced where keepers move sheep through approved Central Points of Recording (CPRs), the statement notes.

All sheep moved from tomorrow must also be accompanied by a newly issued dispatch document containing a barcoded document serial number, according to the department.

All registered sheep keepers were issued with an information pack in the last two weeks which included a covering note reminding them of the effective date of the new rules, a new book of dispatch documents containing barcoded serial numbers and a booklet detailing the new requirements.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, announced an EID tag subsidy payable to eligible keepers on the completion of their first electronic tag order between October 1, 2018, and September 30, 2019, up to a maximum payment of €100 per farmer.

This aimed to offset additional costs at farm level.

A minimum order of 10 electronic tags will be required for entry into the scheme. Payments are being be made in four quarterly tranches during 2019.