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Union Ensures Scottish Industry is Heard in Sheep Ageing Consultation

Cut-off date could end costly carcase splitting

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has launched a consultation on introducing a new option for identifying the age of sheep for the purposes of TSE (Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies) controls.

The ageing issue is hugely important to Scottish producers because carcases of sheep which are regarded as 12 months or over are subject to costly carcase splitting which can bring a significant reduction in the price paid to the farmer or crofter.

Disappointingly, the consultation had initially only listed English and Welsh sheep industry organisations as consultees despite the impact that any change to regulation would undoubtably have on all sheep farmers across Great Britain, including Scotland.   NFU Scotland highlighted its concerns with DEFRA officials last week and it has since taken steps to ensure that the Scottish sheep industry will be fully represented and consulted in the process.

NFU Scotland Livestock Committee Chairman Jimmy Ireland said: “NFU Scotland members have, for some considerable time, wanted to see changes made to the costly method for identifying the age of sheep for TSE control purposes.

 “We have argued strongly in Brussels, London and in Edinburgh at various times for a change to current regulations which would allow the use of a cut-off date each year to determine an animal’s age rather than the current unreliable method of checking a sheep’s mouth for permanent incisor eruption as a guide to how old it is.

“Last week, we reminded DEFRA officials that Scotland was home to 20 per cent of the sheep flock in Great Britain and that it was therefore vital that the UK Government include Scottish sheep industry representative organisations in their consultation.

“We welcome confirmation from Defra that this will now happen.  Any new regulatory approach agreed for England and Wales will likely be mirrored in Scotland and we want to ensure cohesive regulations are in place across the GB market.  Therefore, it’s vital that the Scottish sheep sector be accounted for.

“The NFU Scotland LFA and Livestock Committees, at their forthcoming meetings on 4 October and 9 October respectively, will consider how to respond to the consultation prior to it closing on 31 October.”

Notes to editors


End

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 131/19


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