Farmers buying eartags for cattle have been told to bear in mind that a new multi-species traceability service is imminent and it may affect the number of tags issued.
NFU chief livestock adviser John Royle said availability of tags in their current form was not an issue, but talks were underway about a replacement system.
It will form part of the Livestock Information Programme and will sit alongside what will be the new bovine EID system, but it is subject to Defra consultation at the end of the year.
Mr Royle said: “There is no problem with availability of ordering tags in their present form.
“What I would say is that change is coming, and when you are ordering cattle and sheep tags, just bear that in mind.”
Mr Royle said Defra had been working alongside the Traceability Design User Group, made up of 25 industry and Government stakeholders, to consult on what the system might look like, including the type of chip and tag number sequence.
“We are all pretty much clued up on what they will look like, but Defra still needs to consult,” he said.
Caisley development manager Hugh Pocock warned farmers who were thinking about ‘getting ahead of the game’ to wait until the new legislation had come through from Defra.
Gill Ainge, Alidma secretary, agreed it was business as usual until they had been told more. She added: “Our suppliers are working with their customers to make sure they are not massively stockpiling, but that they have enough to last.”
Defra said existing livestock traceability services would continue to function ‘for as long as is necessary’ to ensure the UK continued to maintain full traceability of farmed livestock, but that it could not provide definite timescales for implementation.
A Defra spokesperson said: “We understand that many cattle keepers are asking about potential future changes to the cattle identification regime and implementation of bovine EID and when this might happen, as they are concerned about purchasing too many non-EID tags.
“We recommend that farmers avoid stockpiling cattle tags beyond those that are required to cover births up to next year’s spring calving season.”