back to article Farmers furious at EU's sheep-chip scheme

British farmers have pledged to fight to the "bitter end" over EU plans for all sheep to be fitted with electronic ID tags as the UK government ruminates on how to implement the scheme. The EU has long recognised that all sheep tend to look alike to humans, and is looking to RFID technology to ensure animals can be tracked …


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  1. Scott Mckenzie

    Good news for the Welsh

    They could implement some sort of geotagging to keep a track of their favourites...

    From a farming point of view, give the guys a break, they're facing high enough costs as it is!!!

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Osiris


    First, they came for the sheep. And I did not speak up because I was not a .... oh, wait. Damn

  4. duncan wood


    If you get it to the rumen from the bitter end then it's going to be very easy to catch the sheep afterwards, the other end would be rather less fatal.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    baa baa boom

    We need to be protected from terrorist sheep.

  6. Bassey
    Thumb Down

    Chatting to a farming friend

    I was chatting to a farming friend of mine last week (he's getting rid of his few remaining sheep and switching to 100% cattle because sheep farming was "too much work"). He reckons each reader is about £6k and, even for a small farm like his with just a couple of hundred sheep, you'll need to buy six up-front.

    Then there are maintenance costs (hill-farms aren't exactly the friendliest places for sensitive electronics) and he would still have to fill out the paper-work to link the records to the tags. Say ten minutes per "passport". If he has 200 lambs this season that's over 30 hours filling out paper work - in the middle of the busiest part of the farming year.

    Also, I don't want to be chewing on RFID tags when I tuck into my Sunday roast. It's all very well spitting out the buck-shot from the rabbit sausages but lamb chops shouldn't be crunchy!

    There is a very easy way to ensure stupid legislation like this goes away very quickly. Before implementing new schemes, politicians have to try it for themselves. I suspect if some Euro MPs were forced to spend a month lambing day and night in atrocious weather on an isolated Hill Farm AND fill out all the paper work associated with the animals, the chemicals, the feeds, the medicine, the machinery, the subsidies etc. etc. they'd soon feck off and leave our farming communities alone.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    O RLY

    Do farmers in this country honestly do ANYTHING without this type of whining?

  8. Tom

    As a farmer myself

    the annoying thing is you still have to fill out the sodding paperwork by hand and post it in!

    Its a rule designed by the IT industry, for the IT industry by greedy f'wits.

    I've tried to suggest a few standards for information interchange - but it seems if there are standards then people will use them and they cant make enough money out of backhanders or something, or it could be their IT suppliers have allergies to standards.

  9. Dave_H
    Thumb Down

    Costs more than the sheep is worth

    At a cost of €2.25 per sheep that will be most of the miniscule profit gone then. Last time I went to market - the sheep on the hoof (and good ones at that) weren't making much more.

    If you went to the supermarket, of course you couldn't buy a Kilo for that price, but then that's another story. Like the wool that has regularly been getting £2 for a fleece, after it costs £3 to shear the sheep!

    The sheep have ear tags now which enable easy tracking. Why add something else to do the same job and cost an awful lot more?

    Ex-Young Farmers County Chairman, Ex-National Council member, County Vice-President, but working in IT as at least there are regular hours, it's inside and has a half decent wage!

  10. David


    A wooly problem, no doubt about it. A flocking nuisance, it would seem. Farmers are going to be fleeced.

  11. Steve
    Black Helicopters

    Just stop it

    Seriously, there's an EP election here on 4th June. Find out who will put the kibosh on all such things (never mind whatever their other nuttery) and be sure to vote. What else can we do, apart from re-enabling the pillboxes in our green and pleasant (if somewhat sodden) land? Mine's the one-time sticky-bomb - we were trained at school CCF.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Why do farming ministers hate UK farming?

    And of course, the New Zealand Lamb we eat will also have been tracked, traced, chipped and recorded to the same degree, or we will refuse to import it? No?

    Quelle suprise....

  13. william

    €2.25 per sheep more like £70.

    Their's similar legislation for Horses, but due to the way the Government (defra) have interpreted "Qualified Individual" to mean vet, it will cost us £70 and our European friends only €2.25 / horse, I'm sure they will do the same for sheep so that will be £70 / sheep.

  14. rhydian
    Thumb Down

    Technology for the sake of technology

    As has been mentioned before sheep are already tagged with a number on a cheap plastic tag for ID purpouses and this system works well. This new system will involve farmers spending thousands of pounds on new equipment with all the headaches that new equipment will bring. For example, you have a barn in the middle of a field for sorting sheep that has no electricity supply. How do you power your RFID scanner and the associated PC/laptop? Methinks the sales of batteries, generators and 12v/240v inverters will go through the roof...

  15. Juan Inamillion


    ...I prefer roast potatoes with my lamb...

    /Arthur Daly

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's IT gone mad

    Baa-locks :)

  17. Anonymous John

    @ €2.25 per sheep more like £70.

    Yes, but horses are worth more than sheep. The Government wouldn't be that stup.........

    Sorry, I don't know why I said that.

    Mine's the sheepskin one with the chip.

  18. Dave Gregory
    Thumb Down

    I believed this...

    ...until I read of a successful trial in France.

    Come on, there's no way French farmers would swallow this nonsense. They'd burn the sheep first!

  19. Cris Page

    Trial Run

    Tis but a trial run... today the sheep tomorrow the sheeple who voted these cretins into poistions of power. Yet another cost to be passed on to the consumer, just for another "industry" created by people without first hand knowledge about that which they seek to regulate.

    Coat - Mine is the one with the euro politburo stealing yet more of my hard earned to fund one of the job creation schemes for their IT buddies..

  20. Dave Bell

    They eat horses, don't they?

    Seriously, we don't think of horses as a meat source. Some European countries do. So Europe-wide rules for food safetly get applied. Then our government interprets the EU Directive, and the law here gives the work to fully-qualified Vets.

    British farmers have been doing things differently for thousands of years. For instance, our stone-age ancestors started using dogs to herd livestock. Which means we have a different style of shepherding. We have more sheep per farmer. And rules which are manageable in other countries threaten to overwhelm our farmers.

    There's some truth in the claim that politicians don't like farmers, because farmers can recognise bullshit when it comes their way.

    (Yes, mine's the Barbour.)

  21. lglethal Silver badge

    An idea

    Maybe im missing the point of what the RFID is for but why not just incorporate the RFID into the current ear tag? Ok the farmer still has to fork out for the scanner but i can see that being a benefit at some point when rather then having to catch every single sheep and check its tag, you can do it from a distance.

    Installing the RFID into the sheep will cost more then just a scanner, and as has been mentioned will probably require a vet to do (so major cost). And if the whole point of the RFID is to prevent people doing dodgy things like swapping eartags, then i fail to see how putting the RFID in the sheep will help - if you got the technology to install one, its easy enough to remove the old one and stick a new one in, so it doesnt really remove your problem.

  22. Neil Harland
    Paris Hilton

    More EU nonsense

    Yet one more reason why we should leave the Brussells gravy train whenever we get the chance to vote on it, (As promised by the Labour Party - So much for democracy then).

    I'm a hill farmer who farms sheep and also fettles computers and networks when they fall over. The only reason this was pushed through was the fact that there are not too many sheep keeping nations in the EU club, and the UK has by far the largest sheep flock in that club. From what I am told the only nations that pushed this nonsense through were the ones who do not have much of a sheep flock and therefore couldn't give a flying lamb chop about the practicalities of recording all the information during lambing time when sleep is at a premium as it is. So much for democracy then.

    The sad fact about about all this nonsense is that it will not actually provide any better traceability than we presently have. Sheep eartags are not the most reliable of things for remaining on a sheep's ear. I reckon on a 5% loss rate. Boluses are not the most reliable of things to be electronically read. The electronic equipment to do this will be expensive because of the harsh environment it will have to work in, (Wind, rain, clarts, and farmer's hands). Have you checked out the price of 'tuff' laptop lately?

    I'm with Bassey over this one. Let some of those F*ckwits who dream up this legislation come and 'assist' me to do half the work I do at lambing time and we'd never see the like again.

    Paris - because she could figure out a simpler system.

    Neil Harland

  23. Raymond Cranfill

    Sheeple are the Happiest Sheeple I Know...


    I know you thought you were joking when you suggested that politicians be chipped first before the sheep, but i guarantee that it's just a matter of time before both the U.S. and the E.U. demand that citizens be tagged for reasons of national security. (Please, no "Mark of the Beast" or "666" comments - there is no god, get over it). There was a recent gathering of retailers in the United States discussing the potential advertising uses of RFID chips in people. Software embedded in store displays would consult the company database of a customer's recent purchases and then use that information to target the hapless customer from store displays that the customer approached while shopping. And this is the most benign application that I can think of.


  24. Stephen Jenner


    @Cris Page:

    “today the sheep tomorrow the sheeple who voted these cretins into positions of power”

    FYI… Nobody voted for the European Commission “cretins”, they just created themselves and told everyone they were real and important. The reality of course, is that they are unproductive Pooters, and it is about time that people realised that the only way to get rid of them is for all of us to vote for a party that will leave the European Union immediately.

    There is only one party that will do this…

    The UK Independence Party.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    It's out of our government's hands.

    The reason the UK government can't do anything about it is that agriculture is an EU competence, not a UK competence, and has been for 20 years. Parliament has no right to dictate how animals are treated or what tagging methods should be used.

    Roll on the Euro elections in June!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    April fools day..

    ...was two weeks ago wasn't it?

  27. Bassey

    Re: lglethal

    Nice idea but this is being introduced partly because the ear-tags fall off. I know TV tells us sheep live in square fields with lush grass and perfectly manicured hedges. In reality, they often spend months roaming moar-land, scrabblig about in heather and gorse and generally living in pretty rough wilderness. Those ear-tags don't last long and, certainly where I live, if an animal doesn't have BOTH ear-tags still attached when the inspectors make a surprise visit there is all hell to pay.

  28. Wayland Sothcott

    Sheep as Guineapigs

    OK, bigger the guineapigs but ideal to get the RFID chipping industry off to a good start.

    Once these animals can be chipped long term and the chips further developed on the back of all the money the industry will be making.

    Then the bigger and more important market is to chip sheeple. This is a few years off and unless they hurry up with the birdflu human crossover there won't be a pretext.

    Anyway good news for the RFID industry. They will have to make them Tazer safe.

    White coat because that's what Doctors, Vets and Butchers wear.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    EU or not EU?

    "Yet one more reason why we should leave the Brussells gravy train whenever we get the chance to vote on it"

    ...but then our government will ride rough-shod over our backs brandishing things like Phorm...

    You just can't win, can you?

  30. Simon B

    man dies from choking on chip in lamb!

    In the news today ... A man has died from choking on an electronic tagging chip in his lamb chop, friend close to the deceased man said that if he only had beef instead, he would still be alive today.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Thic 'uns tree vut, butty, look

    How bizarre to see a comment from the Forest of Dean Commoner's Association on El Reg. Readers in more civilised areas of the country may be unaware of the unique rights of born Foresters to roam sheep "in the Forest".

    This entails sheep "badgers" (the straw-chewing version of Del Boy) tipping a dozen or so scraggy, diseased tats out of the back of a rusty Transit van on the road verges, and leaving them to fend for themselves for the summer. They're especially fond of road verges, and also of taking a stroll across it, when they want to get to the other side (or just to the middle, where some seem to feel more at home.) Occasionally they invade a village or small town; they really enjoy the taste of garden flowers, especially at this time of year. You'd think that Darwin (or failing that Adam Smith's invisible hand) would have finished off this medieval practice long ago, but sadly the Foresters keep breeding. :/

    Posting anonymously because they can turn ugly...

    ...and you haven't seen ugly until you've seen ugly Foresters, believe me; they make Farmer Palmer's brood (in Viz) look like the red carpet at Cannes. Stuff the sheep, I say chip the Badgers with a GPS and cellphone, and show the data on a live Google map!

  32. Tim Schomer

    @ man dies from choking on chip in lamb!

    "...if he only had beef instead, he would still be alive today."

    Shhhhh, Don't give them ideas!

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Running roughshod

    If the gubmint can run roughshod over the miners, what makes you think they won't do the same to the farmers (or any other group they get in a snit over)? They would just as soon put you out of business as look at you; after all; they KNOW it's cheaper to buy whatever it is from a third-world country. They can take your job and everything away from you whilst they are living quite well, thank you. To borrow a phrase:

    Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity

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