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Cattle Tracing System

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 126948, tabled on 8 December 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what plans the Government has for a UK-specific system of cattle identification.

Answered on

15 December 2020

At present, cattle are identified with a pair of approved ear tags, showing the same unique individual identification number.

Defra is working with industry on proposals for the introduction of Bovine Electronic Identification (bEID) in England. bEID is the identification of cattle with a tag which contains an electronic identifier. bEID would allow the use of electronic readers to capture the animals’ identity, removing the possibility of human errors of omission and transposition.

The Devolved Administrations are also working on plans for implementing bEID. Defra is working in close collaboration with the Devolved Administrations to ensure the timing and approach to implementation of bovine electronic identification in each part of the UK does not create burden or confusion for keepers.

In the event of a disease outbreak, it is essential that animals can be identified, and movements can be traced effectively.

Currently, keepers and livestock markets report cattle movements to the current British Cattle Movement Service. In the future, each Administration will run a fully separate system for livestock traceability, including for cattle. We are working closely together to ensure the future systems are fully interoperable so that effective arrangements for disease control and trade are maintained across the UK.