Subject to a Scottish Government consultation exercise, compulsory electronic identification (EID) of cattle is due to be phased-in for Scotland over the next few years. This is anticipated to improve the speed and accuracy of traceability, hopefully paving the way for removal of paper passports. The currently proposed dates for implementation are:
- From January 2020, all calves born on Scottish holdings will have to be EID-tagged.
- From June 2022, any other bovine moving off a Scottish holding will have to be EID-tagged.
- Farmers wishing to EID-tag their animals earlier than these dates will be able to do so, from June 2019.
This phased approach will give sufficient time for existing on-farm stocks of non-EID tags to be run down and for many existing cattle to pass through the supply-chain without being retagged. As yet, a date for EID-tagging the remaining cattle on the holding has not been issued (i.e. older cattle not moving off a holding).
Reflecting industry views from across the supply-chain, EID-tagging will entail the combined use of both Low Frequency (LF) and Ultra High Frequency (UHF) tags. LF is already in use for sheep EID (and some on-farm cattle management purposes) but has some constraints, whilst UHF offers some technical and cost advantages likely to make it increasingly attractive for livestock traceability (such that the International Standards Organisation is working on extending animal identification standards to UHF). The combination of LF and UHF can be achieved via a single, dual LF-UHF tag, a UHF flag backed by a LF button tag, or by separate LF and UHF tags (one in each ear).