Ref: 73/09
Date: 31 March 2009

Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR
Out of hours telephone 020 7270 8960

Views sought on implementing sheep and goat tagging rules

Views are being sought from farmers and other interested parties on how the new EU rules on the electronic identification of sheep and goats can best be implemented in England through a consultation launched today.

Electronic identification (EID) is an EU requirement to enable the individual traceability of sheep and goats and more effective control in the event of a disease outbreak.

The UK has been pressing hard in Europe for changes that will help to reduce the burden of EID and individual recording on the sheep and goat farming industry.

The Government has already secured a number of changes to the EID regulations which will considerably reduce the burden on farmers, including delaying the date of implementation until December this year and securing a derogation from the need to electronically identify animals which are intended for slaughter under 12 months of age.  

If the UK applies the slaughter derogation, the EID regulation will only affect the one sheep that is retained for breeding out of every five sheep born.

While continuing to press for further improvements, the Government is preparing to implement the new system by the EU deadline of 31 December 2009, and is seeking views on how to make the costs of implementation as low as possible.

The consultation period runs from 31 March 2009 to 23 June 2009.

Notes to editors

EID is an EU requirement being introduced to manage individual traceability of sheep to enable more effective control in the event of a disease outbreak. More information on the implementation is available at

The Regulation provides for the mandatory introduction of electronic identification of sheep from 31 December 2009, including an optional derogation from the need to electronically identify sheep which live to less than the age of 12 months.  This derogation allows the use of a single conventional ear-tag instead of electronic identification.

To help implementation, Defra has reconvened the EID Co-ordination Group in England. The first meeting was held on 24 June 2008. This group consists of industry representatives and includes independent farmers who were involved in the EID trials. This consultation document takes account of the key issues discussed.


Public enquiries: 08459 335577
News releases available on our website:
Defra's aim is sustainable development

Page published: 31 March 2009

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs