Electronic tagging of sheep: John Wilson
Peggy Casdon asks if our sheep are criminals (Farmers Guardian, December 16).
One might think so, given Natural England and its predecessors’ modern highland clearances, which are destroying the hill farming system. The hills have been the nursery of the livestock industry since the days of the drovers and fed us for generations.
However the reason for electronic tagging of sheep is that the Government failed to stop the movement of animals at the start of the 2001 epidemic, and thereby establish early control, so they blamed sheep.
Huge numbers were slaughtered on the grounds the disease was circulating amongst them, but of the hundreds and thousands killed at Great Orton, only a handful showed any signs of the disease.
The disease was brought under control in Cumbria by spraying roads with acid, setting up washing stations for vehicles, putting supervisors on milk tankers, and is some cases stopping movement of individuals.
In spite of this the EU inspired by its usual legislative incontinence, decided sheep must be individually identified. But, instead of normal tags, it insisted on imposing an impossible electronic system on the unfortunate farmer. Now the young lambs have heavy tags tearing their ears- ideal for flystrike.
In addition the regulations are based on 100% accuracy but the equipment does not meet this standard, leaving farmers at risk of unfair penalties.
Cumbrian hill farmer