Mandatory ear tagging should not be enforced

Mandatory ear tagging should not be enforced


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While electronic tags are useful to some producers as a management tool, Katie Davies says farmers need to make decisions to suit their business.

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While electronic tags are useful to some producers as a management tool, Katie Davies says farmers need to make decisions to suit their business.

While electronic tags are useful to some producers as a management tool, Katie Davies says farmers need to make decisions to suit their business.

Traceability is an important issue in the goat industry as we look to strengthen the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS). In late 2016, Victoria introduced mandatory electronic tagging for sheep and goats with some exemptions for rangeland and earless goats. 

NSW Farmers maintains our opposition to the introduction of mandatory electronic tagging.

While electronic tags are useful to some producers as a management tool, farmers should be able to make decisions on implementing technologies that are most suited to their particular farm business. 

Members of NSW Farmers are opposed to the introduction of mandatory electronic tagging for a number of reasons including the physical limitations of tagging and scanning large mobs of sheep or goats and implications on cross-border trade if some states implement mandatory tagging and others do not.

In 2017, NSW Farmers worked with the Goat Industry Council of Australia (GICA) and other industry bodies to oppose the introduction of mandatory electronic tagging in Victoria. 

NSW Farmers has retained an agreement with the NSW Government to maintain the current mob-based traceability system, and exercises including Operation Mary demonstrated that goat producers in NSW are demonstrating improvements in traceability compliance. 

Identification of dairy goats was another key issue in 2017. NLIS Ltd indicated to GICA that the states had advised that all exemptions for dairy goats are only a short-term solution and the NLIS Advisory Committee recommended removal.

In 2016, GICA commissioned a desktop study on “NLIS Tagging Options for Australian Dairy Goats”.

Given GICA’s commitment to improving the current NLIS and with the results from the study, GICA supported the removal of the current tagging exemption for dairy goats, with the exception of “earless” breeds pending the determination of a suitable identifier.

NSW Farmers supports the use of leg bands, hockstraps and tags as the only NLIS identification devices for use within the dairy goat and earless breed industry, which is supported by the Dairy Goat Society of Australia. 

For both managed and rangeland goats, it’s important that identifiers are appropriate for the animal and their particular production system. NSW Farmers and GICA will continue to work to ensure that goat producers’ voices are heard in the ongoing discussion around traceability.

  • Katie Davies is NSW Farmers’ goat committee chair.
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