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Sheep Tags

Sheep tags are a highly efficient way to keep your flock in check. In fact in the UK, tagging is a legal requirement under certain conditions. Registering and identifying your sheep and their movements is an effective way of minimising the spread of disease and maximising the control you have over subduing an outbreak.

Sheep must be identified if they are within six months of age if kept under shelter overnight, or 9 months of age if not housed overnight. They must always be identified if being moved from the holding of birth. If kept for longer than 12 months without slaughter, the sheep must be tagged with two identifiers, generally through the use of ear tags, each bearing the same unique ID number. One of these sheep tags must be electronic (EID).

If you are intending to slaughter your sheep within 12 months of birth, you may identify them with just one ear tag, which does not need to be an electronic tag and needs only to include your herd mark. While there are options for tagging such as a ruminal bolus, leg band or injectable identifier, an ear tag is generally considered the easiest and most cost-effective solution.

There are many legal guidelines involved in tagging sheep. For example, any lost or illegible tags must be replaced within 28 days of discovery. Your annual inventory must be ready for the 1st December each year and movement documents for reporting any move to your local authority, need to be prepared within three days by whoever is receiving the animals.

During the act of tagging the sheep itself, always be sure to insert the electronic tag (EID) in the left ear, as you are looking from the behind the sheep. The tags must be correct for the size, breed and age of the sheep, in accordance to local and manufacturer guidelines. When inserting the tags, be sure that the sheep is held firmly. A tried and tested method of this is to restrain the sheep firmly between your legs.

Something often overlooked in tagging is to make sure there is enough room for the sheep’s ear to grow, particularly in the case of young lambs. The tags themselves should be around a third of the distance away from the sheep’s head. Always give your sheep time and space to recover after tagging, so as to make sure the animal does not get stressed. Always ensure that the tags are clean and disinfected, and never puncture cartilage or blood vessels. Finally, do not tag any sheep that are ill or displaying symptoms of Orf. If you have no choice but to tag them, leave them until you have tagged the healthy sheep in the flock.

Tags: shep tags