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Gildernew announces important changes for Herdkeepers

18 December, 2008

Sinn Féin Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew, MP MLA, announced important changes to cattle registration rules and DNA testing, which will benefit herdkeepers.

The new DNA testing measures will assist herd-keepers in appeals procedures by proving calf and dam relationships.

The minister said:

"Farmers now have the opportunity to submit a DNA sample of an animal on their farm, taken by their Private Veterinary Practitioner, which can be used to prove calf/dam relationships as part of certain appeals procedures. The costs of the PVP and the approved laboratory will be met the herdkeeper."

Revealing changes to calf registration rules, the minister said:

"From 1 January 2009 a new Valid Dam Failure (VDF) status will be applied on APHIS instead of a Date of Birth Query (DOBQ) status for calves where dam validation has not been achieved. For example, where two births are registered to the same dam within nine months or the dam was not in the herd at the time of the birth.

"The main advantage of this change is that, unlike the DOBQ status, the new VDF status does not prevent the movement of cattle within the North. The animal also remains eligible for slaughter for human consumption. However, as is the case for animals with a DOBQ status, those with a VDF status cannot be exported to Britain or other Member States."

The minister also announced that, for cattle that lose an eartag on the way to a slaughter premises, the requirement to replace the lost tag no longer applies. Explaining the relaxation of rules governing replacement tags for cattle presented for slaughter, the minister said:

"If in exceptional circumstances an animal arrives at an abattoir with only one eartag, provided it is accompanied by correct documentation and there is evidence of a second tag having been applied, it can be accepted for slaughter without the need to apply a new tag. This relaxation in no way negates the EU requirement that all cattle must be double tagged, rather it deals with situations where an animal may have lost its tag on the way to the meat plant. Farmers are still required to check before leaving their holding that the animal is properly identified ie has one complete identical tag in each ear."

"I want to make it clear that in line with normal practice where an animal is presented with only one tag and there is no evidence of a second tag ever having been applied, it will be detained until such time as its identity can be proven. Where the animal's identity cannot be proven it will be destroyed."

Where keepers persistently present animals with only one tag at an abattoir legal action may be taken and Single Farm Payments may also be affected.

All relevant information, including an appeals application form and details of how to apply for a DNA sample will be sent to herdkeepers over the coming weeks. Application forms and further advice are also available from local Divisional Veterinary and DARD Direct Offices.

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