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Electronic tags a must to boost store lamb sales, says Ashford auctioneer


All Britains sheep producers who are planning to sell store lambs at livestock auction markets this year are being urged to ensure that their 2010 lamb crop are all identified with single electronic slaughter tags to meet the new legislation and to increase sales opportunities.

EID is essential for producers to maximise their chances of selling their stock to advantage, as well as to comply with the new rules, says Peter Kingwill, an auctioneer for Hobbs Parker at Ashford Market in Kent and a member of the Livestock Auctioneers Association (LAA).

Buyers are just not going to be interested in buying lambs for fattening, if the animals are not electronically tagged. It is too much hassle for them to identify large numbers of animal manually, he said.

Mr Kingwill was speaking as the UK sheep sector faced up to its first major EID challenge at the autumn sales this year.

LAA chairman Alastair Sneddon, who is managing partner for Bagshaws at Bakewell Market and has been selling stock in the Peak District for the past 30 years, pointed out that livestock auction markets were all doing their best to ensure that the new legislation worked properly and helped rather than hindered trade during the coming season.

We know that there has been a lot of controversy over this new EU Directive, but it is here now and the LAA believes that if we all work hard together we can ensure it has a positive effect, rather than a detrimental one, on the industry. Auction marts throughout the UK have already devoted a great deal of time and effort, as well as money, into making the EID system as easy as possible for producers to live with and to ensure that it does not disrupt the important autumn sales programme.

Auctioneers at Ashford Mart expect to handle between 80,000 and 100,000 store lambs and breeding ewes between August and November and Mr Kingwill believes EID will make things much easier for everybody.

Its difficult to trace all the sheep manually and the market has invested several thousand pounds in new equipment and software, as well as training for staff to cater for EID on a large scale. We have also invested a great deal of time and effort in explaining the importance of fitting single electronic tags to store lambs sold for fattening, says Mr Kingwill.

We want them to understand that purchasers represent a variety of markets and EID makes it much easier for them to source and identify animals for different outlets. EID offers them greater flexibility and they are more likely to buy sheep that have them.

Yes, farmers could do all the ID work themselves at home, but markets can save farmers investing in their own equipment and we will do it all for them when they get to the market. All the producers need to do is make sure they fit electronic tags to their sheep, he adds.

Ashford Market is an approved Central Point Recording Centre and the staff have all the necessary equipment to scan all the pens rapidly to ID the sheep and then we can easily email all the read information straight back to the relevant producers. It can save so much time and money if all the sheep are properly tagged, explains Mr Kingwill.

Vendors need to understand the implications that the single 50p electronic tag in their lambs will have for the finished animals when they come off another holding and they must remember their lambs will probably be all mixed up when they are sold, he added.

The Livestock Auctioneers’ Association is the national organisation representing auctioneering firms that occupy and run the livestock auction markets of England and Wales. Its members handle the vast majority of all auction sales of farm livestock. The Association is also supported by representatives of the Institute of Appraisers and Auctioneers in Scotland.

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