Tag calves before they travel

Date 22 September 2016

Southland TBfree committee member Shelli Mears says too many farmers don’t know their legal tagging obligations for calves going out the farm gate this spring.

“Farmers need to know that if they are selling four-day-old feeder calves at the farm gate, they need the farmer’s NAIT tag in their ear and be registered in the NAIT system,” says Shelli, who sharemilks purebred jersey and friesian cows with her husband Steve at Mokotua east of Invercargill.

Buyers need to be aware of the rules too, she says. Shelli says there’s evidence on social media of farmers letting calves go untagged, or throwing in a handful of tags from the shed.

“Some calves go off to lifestyle blocks as pets, or ‘rescue’ calves or bobbies, but if they’re moving off-farm, they must be tagged and registered before they go,” says Shelli. Calves staying on as replacements don’t need to be tagged until they reach six months – unless they move off-farm.

“Then the buyer needs to register the movement too,” she says. If someone has already bought calves, talk to NAIT about what you need to do.

The NAIT system, which is a register of all farmed cattle and deer animals, is essential to New Zealand’s farming future. It enables lifetime traceability for livestock, which is increasingly demanded by the international markets that buy New Zealand’s agricultural produce, and enables a quick response in the event of any disease outbreak.

Farmers, sharemilkers and buyers can find out more online at ospri.co.nz/nait, email info@nait.co.nz or phone and talk to a NAIT expert on 0800 482 463.

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