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7. Animal Traceability

IRISH BOVINE ANIMAL IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM

The aim of the Bovine Animal Identification System is to guarantee the safety of beef and beef products by the operation of an effective animal identification and tracing system. The system has four elements: tagging, bovine passport, on-farm bovine herd registers and a computerised database.

The important aspects of each of the elements of identification are as follows:

  • Tagging
    The tagging system requires the application by the keeper of two identically numbered yellow plastic eartags to all calves born on a holding within twenty days of birth. Keepers are obliged to order their annual requirement of eartags directly from the tag supplier approved by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. They do this by completing the tag order card sent to them by the approved tag supplier and returning it with the appropriate fee. On application of a pair of tags to a calf, the keeper must complete a corresponding and identically numbered registration application form, which is supplied with each pair of tags.
  • Registration and Passports
    Keepers are required to register the birth of each calf on a central birth registration database. This can be done by registering the calf birth online or by completing the registration application form [received with the tags] and sending it within seven days of tagging the calf to the registration agency appointed by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. On receipt of a completed and valid registration application, the registration agency issues the keeper with a passport for the animal concerned. This passport must accompany the animal each time it is moved. All movements of the animal throughout its life must be recorded on the passport.
  • Bovine Herd Registers
    Keepers of cattle are required to maintain a herd register of all bovine animals on their holdings. The herd register must be kept up-to-date and must record information in relation to all calves born on the holding together with details of all animals entering or leaving the herd and of animal deaths on the holding.
  • Animal Identification and Movement (AIM) System
    The AIM system is a database which records all bovine birth, movements and disposals. The system captures details of all animal movements and this information is used to verify the origin, identity and life history of cattle entering the food chain. It is also used to check compliance of cattle with eligibility criteria of the Single Payment Scheme. The AIM system can also be used to assist in the identification and tracing of bovines that may have come in contact with infectious diseases, for veterinary certification and to provide statistical information in respect of the cattle sector.

NOTIFICATIONS TO AIM

Keepers of cattle are obliged to notify the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of the movement of cattle to and from their holdings. In the case of cattle sold privately, the source keeper must obtain a Certificate of Compliance from the Cattle Movement Notification Agency or on-line from the Department's website prior to the movement of any animal off the holding. Both the source and destination keepers must confirm within 7 days of the event that the movement has taken place. Keepers must also notify the Department of on-farm deaths.

ON-LINE FACILITIES AVAILABLE TO FARMERS WITH BOVINE ANIMALS

A number of on-line facilities are available under the AIM system that allows farmers to:

  • register calf births;
  • apply for a Certificate of Compliance (to move cattle direct from farm to farm), from mid 2010 a farmer will be able to print the Certificate of Compliance from a home PC and printer;
  • check cattle in the herd according to the AIM database;
  • verify that movements in and out of the herd have been recorded on the system;
  • view the life history of individual animals until they leave the herd; and
  • view the most recent TB and Brucellosis test dates for animals in the herd.

Farmers must register with the Department's Agfood.ie facility to avail of the on-line services, which are available free of charge. This can be done by clicking on the Agfood icon on the Department's website www.agriculture.gov.ie and following the simple instructions. Farmers can also contact the eService Helpdesk (lo-call number 1890 252 118) to register over the phone or to obtain a paper application.

NATIONAL SHEEP IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM (NSIS)

The EU-wide system for the identification and registration of ovine (sheep) and caprine (goats) animals are set down under Council Regulation (EC) No 21/2004 of 17 December 2003 (as amended). These rules are implemented in respect of sheep in Ireland under the National Sheep Identification System (NSIS). More detailed information on NSIS can be found on the Department's website www.agriculture.gov.ie  

Under the NSIS, all flock owners must be registered, all sheep must be tagged and details of all sheep on farms and all sheep movements must be fully recorded. This system, which encompasses producers, marts, meat factories and others, provides that Ireland has full traceability for all sheep, on an individual basis.

REGISTRATION

Any person who holds or keeps sheep in the State must apply for registration of the holding to the local District Veterinary Office of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for the area in which the holding is situated. Registered flock owners are issued with a herd number and a sheep designator.

IDENTIFICATION OF SHEEP

Approved Tags

Only tags that have been approved for use under the NSIS may be used to tag sheep in accordance with NSIS requirements. A list of Tag Suppliers who have had tags approved for use under the NSIS is below. The following types of tags and identifiers will be available for ID purposes under NSIS:

  • Slaughter tags (formerly short-tags) - these tags are to be placed in the left ear of sheep going directly from a holding for slaughter. These tags are yellow;
  • Mart tags (formerly long-term tags) - these tags are to be placed in the left ear of sheep presented at the mart but intended for slaughter before 12 months. They can also be used in lambs going directly to the factory. These tags are yellow;
  • Electronic identifiers (electronic eartag or ruminal bolus) - these are for use in conjunction with a mart left eartag in sheep retained on the holding of origin beyond 9 months of age and intended for breeding. They are also to be used in lambs presented at a mart or sale and intended for breeding purposes and live sheep being exported to an EU Member State or a third country.

The identification requirements for sheep as outlined here apply to sheep born after 1 January 2010. The requirements for sheep born prior to 1 January 2010 continue to be the NSIS rules that were in force at that time. In general the identification requirements for sheep born after 1 January 2010 are a follows:

  • All sheep must be tagged with at least one tag by 9 months of age or on leaving the holding of birth, which ever comes first. Animals to be kept definitively for breeding must be double tagged by 9 months of age with a conventional mart tag in the left ear, bearing a 12 digit number, and either a ruminal bolus or an electronic tag in the right ear, bearing the identical 12 digit tag number on the conventional mart tag. In general both tags on a sheep fitted with an electronic tag will be yellow. The tag on a sheep fitted with a ruminal bolus will be light blue;
  • In the case of sheep intended for slaughter before 12 months of age they may be tagged in just the left ear with a conventional slaughter tag;
  • In the case of sheep going for sale via a mart before 12 months old they may be tagged in just the left ear with a conventional tag which must be approved as a mart tag. (Upgrading to EID - Animals less than 12 months of age bought at marts and tagged with one conventional mart tag can be upgraded to double tagging with a specific EID tag if they are to be retained for breeding. This must be done by the time the animal is 12 months of age.);
  • Live Trade - Sheep born after 1 January 2010 and engaged in intra-community trade or third country exports must be double tagged with a conventional tag in the left ear, bearing a 12 digit number, and either a ruminal bolus or an electronic tag in the right ear, bearing an identical 12 digit tag number to the conventional tag. Sheep purchased for export and not identified as above can be upgraded to EID status as follows:
    • a bespoke EID tag bearing the same number as the conventional mart tag already on the animal can be ordered by the exporter;
    • The sheep can be re-tagged with a new EID set and the new tag number correlated to the old number in the flock register of the exporter;

Any animal being exported must prior to presentation for certification at the export assembly centre must have been tagged in accordance with the rules of the NSIS. In general both tags on a sheep fitted with an electronic tag will be yellow. The tag/s on a sheep fitted with a ruminal bolus will be light blue.

SHEEP MOVEMENT DATABASE SYSTEM AND MOVEMENT DOCUMENTS

Dispatch/Movement Documents
A Dispatch/Movement Document completed by the owner of the sheep must accompany sheep moving off the holding, throughout their movement. The Dispatch/Movement Document is a personalised three-part document issued in the name and address of the flock owner and containing a pre-printed Herd/Flock Number, Serial Number and Sheep Designator. The Dispatch/Movement Document must be signed by the Flock keeper off who's holding the sheep are being moved. In addition the blank areas of the Document must be completed by the owner of the sheep, indicating the number of sheep being moved, the individual tag number of each sheep in the consignment being moved and the Herd/Flock number of the farm or (in the case of a slaughter plant or mart) the name and address of the holding to which the sheep have been consigned.

It is important that farmers moving sheep from their holding ensure that the Dispatch Document that accompanies each load leaving the holding is the most up-to-date version of the Dispatch Document.

Under no circumstances should farmers use obsolete or outdated versions of the Dispatch Documents.

The Dispatch/Movement Document is a three-part document.

image from schemes and services booklet

*Please note that in the case of movements direct from farm to farm (not through a mart) the Pink middle copy must be posted to the local office of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food within 7 days of the movement date.

To order Dispatch Document books please contact the local office of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for the county in which you are registered as a flock owner. As books need to be personalised with your details please order at least 1 month in advance of when your require additional supplies.

FLOCK REGISTER

Persons who hold or keep sheep on a registered holding must maintain records of the individual animal identification number attached to the animals. They must also keep a written record of the movement of animals onto or off the registered holding. To facilitate the recording of these details, Flock Registers are issued to all sheep flock owners.

To order a Flock Register or for further information on any aspect of the NSIS, contact the Sheep and Goat ID and Movement Section, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Helpline: 1890 252 713 or Tel: 01 6072901

ANNUAL SHEEP CENSUS

Under EU Regulation 21/2004 all sheep keepers must count the sheep present in the flock on the holding, record this number in the flock register and are legally obliged to return this number to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food once a year.

The Annual Sheep Census takes places normally in December and each registered flock owner will receive in the post a Census Return which he/she should complete in respect of the number of sheep on his/her holding and return it immediately in the prepaid envelope provided.

If you have no sheep at all you must complete a nil return. Failure to complete a census return will result in your sheep designator being made dormant which will prevent you from ordering sheep tags, dispatch/movement books or flock registers. It may also lead to penalties under cross compliance and could result in flock owners being ineligible for certain schemes.

NATIONAL PIG IDENTIFICATION AND TRACING SYSTEM (NPITS)

In accordance with legal requirements the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has developed a National Pig Identification and Tracing System (NPITS), which came into operation in July 2002. In broad terms the system involves the identification of all pigs that are moved off the holding by either an ear tag or a slap mark and the identification of breeding stock with an individual number. All pig movements are recorded on a central movement database.

Only persons with valid pig herd numbers will be allowed to trade in pigs.

Tags and slap marks must be ordered from an approved tag company - the list of such companies is below.

Pig herd owners who wish to be registered on the National Database should contact Special Projects Unit, Animal Health and Welfare Division, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Helpline: 1890 504 604 or Tel: 01 6072827

NATIONAL GOAT IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM (NGIS)

The EU-wide system for the identification and registration of ovine (sheep) and caprine (goats) animals are set down under Council Regulation (EC) No 21/2004 of 17 December 2003 (as amended). These rules are implemented in respect of goats in Ireland under the National Goat Identification System (NGIS). The system is based on:

  • Double tagging of all goats by the age of six months or on movement from the holding, whichever comes first;
  • Use of herd registers to record details of numbers of goats on the holding and details of movements;
  • Use of dispatch documents to record movements.

REGISTRATION

Any person who holds or keeps goats in the State must apply for registration of the holding to the local District Veterinary Office of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for the area in which the holding is situated.

IDENTIFICATION OF GOATS

The identification requirements for goats as outlined here apply to goats born after 1 January 2010. The requirements for goats born prior to 21 January 2010 continue to be the NGIS rules that were in force at that time. In general the identification requirements for goats born after 1 January 2010 are a follows:

  • All goats must be tagged by 6 months of age or on leaving the holding of birth, whichever comes first. All goats must be double tagged (i.e. a tag in each ear) with conventional tags both of which must bear the same 12 digit number which includes the goat designator of the holding of birth and an individual goat ID number. In general both tags on a goat will be green;
  • Live Trade - Goats engaged in intra-community trade or third country exports must be double tagged with a conventional tag in the left ear, bearing a 12 digit number, and either a ruminal bolus or an electronic tag in the right ear, bearing an identical 12 digit tag number to the conventional tag. In general both tags on a goat fitted with an electronic tag will be green. The tag on a goat fitted with a ruminal bolus will be light blue.

Only tags that have been approved for use under the NGIS may be used to tag goats in accordance with NGIS requirements. A list of Tag Suppliers who have had tags approved for use under the NGIS is below.

HERD REGISTER

Persons who hold or keep goats on a registered holding must maintain a herd register in the format supplied by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. For goats born prior to 31 December 2009 the details can be recorded on a batch basis (i.e. not on an individual basis) of all movements of goats onto and off the holding. For all goats born after 31 December 2009 it is necessary to record details on an individual animal basis including the following:

  • the individual identification code of the animal;
  • the year of birth and date of identification;
  • the month and the year of death of the animal on the holding;
  • the race and, if known, the genotype.

MOVEMENT DOCUMENT

A Dispatch/Movement Document completed by the owner of the goats must accompany goats moving off the holding, throughout their movement. The Dispatch/Movement Document is a three-part document, which must be signed by the herd keeper off who's holding the goats are being moved. In addition the blank areas of the Document must be completed by the owner of the goat(s), indicating the number of goats being moved and the herd number of the farm or (in the case of a slaughter plant or mart) the name and address of the holding to which the goat(s) have been consigned. Up until 31 December 2010 it is only necessary to complete dispatch/movement documents on a batch (total number) basis. From 1st January 2011 the requirement to record individual identification numbers on dispatch documents will be phased in as follows:

  • From 1st January 2011 it will be necessary to record the individual identification code of any goats born after 31 December 2009;
  • From 31st December 2011 it will be necessary to record the individual identification code of all goats regardless of their date of birth. However, in the case of goats born before 31 December 2009 and moving to a slaughterhouse it is not necessary to record the individual identification code regardless of the date of movement.

ANNUAL GOAT CENSUS

Under EU Regulation 21/2004 all goat keepers must count the goats present on the holding, record this number in the herd register and are legally obliged to return this number to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food once a year.

The Annual Goat Census takes places normally in December and each registered herd owner will receive in the post a Census Return which he/she should complete in respect of the number of goats on his/her holding and return it immediately in the prepaid envelope provided.

If you have no goats at all you must complete a nil return. Failure to complete a census return will result in your goat designator being made dormant which will prevent you from ordering goat tags, dispatch/movement books or herd registers. It may also lead to penalties under cross compliance and could hamper claims made under certain schemes.

IMPORTS

Goats imported from another Member State or from third countries must be double tagged with a conventional tag in the left ear, bearing a 12 digit number, and either a ruminal bolus or an electronic tag in the right ear, bearing an identical 12 digit tag number to the conventional tag. Existing veterinary requirements continue to apply.

For further information on any aspect of NGIS or to order a Herd Register or Dispatch Book, contact the Sheep and Goat ID and Movement Section, Animal Health and Welfare Division, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Helpline: 1890 252 713 or Tel: 01 6072901

TAGS AND TAG SUPPLIERS

A number of different tags have been approved for use under NSIS, NPITS and NGIS. Only tags that have been approved for use under the various systems may be used.

From 2010 sheep tags are generally yellow in colour, goat tags are generally green in colour and pig tags are green in colour. The general exceptions to this are tags for sheep or goats fitted with an electronic bolus which are blue and non-specific replacement tags which can be red or pink.

Tags may be ordered from a number of different suppliers and orders will be supplied only by post direct to the flock owner who has placed the order. See list of approved tag suppliers below.

APPROVED TAG SUPPLIERS

- NATIONAL SHEEP IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM - NSIS
- NATIONAL PIG IDENTIFICATION AND TRACING SYSTEM - NPITS
- NATIONAL GOAT IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM - NGIS

The following is a list of companies approved to supply animal identification eartags under the above.

Company Name and Address Id. System Approved Phone Fax E-mail/Web Address
Agrihealth Ltd.
Clones Road
Monaghan
Co. Monaghan
NSIS
NPITS
NGIS

1890-515151

047 71800

047 74190 eartags@agrihealth.ie
www.eartags.ie
Co-Operative Animal Health Ltd.
Tullow Industrial Estate
Tullow
Co. Carlow
NSIS
NPITS
NGIS
059-9151251 059 9151856 nbyrne@cahl.ie
www.cahl.ie
Cormac Sheep Tagging
Vicar Street
Tuam
Co. Galway
NSIS
NPITS
NGIS
093-28231 093 28019 info@cormac.ie
www.cormac.ie
Dalton I.D. Systems
C/O Gallagher Power Fence (Irl) Ltd., Kinsale Road,
Cork
NSIS
NPITS
NGIS
021-4312281 021-4317337 sales@gallaghers.ie
www.tags4u.com/ie
www.dalton.ie
Mullinahone Co-Op
Mullinahone
Co. Tipperary
NSIS
NPITS
NGIS
052-9153102 052- 9153512 eurotags@mull-coop.ie
www.mull-coop.com
Quicktag
7A Churchfield Road
Ballycastle
Antrim BT54 6PJ
Northern Ireland
NSIS
NPITS
NGIS
048 2076-8696 048 2076 8699 info@quicktag.co.uk
www.quicktag.co.uk
Ritchey Tagg plc
Fearby Road
Masham
Ripon
North Yorkshire HG4 4ES
England
NSIS
NPITS
NGIS
0044 1765-689541 0044 1765 689851 info@ancr.co.uk
www.ritchey.co.uk
Merko nv
Leo Baekelandstraat 7 Unit 5
B-2950 Kapellen
Belgium
NPITS 00 32 3 360-2670 00 32 3 326 3398 eartags@merko.be
www.merko.be
Shearwell Data Ltd
Putham Farm
Wheddon Cross
Minehead
Somerset TA24 7AS
UK
NSIS
NPITS
NGIS
0044 1643-841611 0044 1643 841628 richard@shearwell.co.uk
www.shearwell.co.uk