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Minister Creed Announces the Extension of Electronic Identification to All Sheep

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed T.D. today announced the mandatory extension of electronic identification to all sheep.

The new rules will require all sheep sold from 1 October 2018 onwards to be identified electronically.  This timeframe will allow farmers a reasonable period of time to use up stocks of tags on hand. The Minister added that he intends to introduce a one off support measure up to a maximum of €50 per keeper for the first purchase of EID tags.

Lambs under 12 months of age moving directly to slaughter from the holding of birth will be required to be identified with a single electronic tag.  All other sheep will require an EID tag set comprised of two tags – one conventional tag and a corresponding electronic tag.  However a conventional tag and an EID bolus will be permitted also.

The Minister stated that “the simplified rules will provide a more robust sheep traceability system and will further support the development and sustainability of the sheep industry.  The improved traceability system will assist in maintaining existing markets and in securing new international outlets for Irish sheep meat, in line with the development goals for the sheep industry, as detailed in the Food Wise 2025 strategy”.  

He added that “this measure will simplify the sheep tagging system and will significantly reduce the record keeping requirements for sheep farmers moving sheep to livestock marts, slaughter plants and export assembly centres”.

The Minister further announced that electronic tag readers and associated software are included as eligible investments in the Targeted Agriculture Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) scheme to assist sheep farmers in flock management.  He stressed however, that tag readers are not a requirement for the new sheep identification system. 

The move to full EID and the inclusion of EID readers as an eligible investment in TAMS will make the recording of the movement of lambs off farm much more convenient and will greatly simplify the paperwork involved for sheep farmers.

The Minister added “I am very keen to ensure that we make further progress in relation to sheep meat access to third countries in 2018 and beyond, including the USA, as well as considering the potential of sheep meat access to Japan and other markets. The introduction of full EID will allow us to further enhance our reputation as producers of traceable, sustainable, high quality sheep meat and will be vital in ensuring we can export our sheep meat into as many markets as possible”.  

These measures will further enhance the attractiveness of Irish lamb in international markets and the Minister commented that he believes  “this enhancement of the current sheep identification system will allow  the sheep sector to further develop and build on its impressive performance which in 2016 saw this sector increase the value of its exports by 3% in volume and 4% in value to €240 million, supporting some 35,000 farm families directly in addition to supporting several thousand jobs indirectly in rural area” .

Note for Editors

Up to now, all sheep are required to be identified electronically with a full EID tag set. However, an exception is made for lambs slaughtered before reaching the age of 12 months (regardless of the number of movements or interim destinations within the 12 months period), where such lambs may be identified with a single conventional tag.  All animals have to be identified by 9 months of age.

Under the new arrangements all animals are still required to be identified at 9 months of age.  Animals consigned directly from farm of origin to a slaughter plant before 12 months of age can be identified with one electronic tag in the animal’s right ear whilst all other animals must comply with the full EID requirements – (1 conventional tag in the left ear and 1 electronic tag in the right ear).

A bolus set comprising an electronic bolus in the stomach of the sheep and a corresponding conventional tag bearing the same number as the bolus may be used as an alternative to an EID tag set.


Date Released: 02 May 2018