Cattle identification and traceability: consultation

This consultation seeks views on cattle identification and traceability in Scotland. It asks questions on use of bovine electronic identification (EID), explains how this could be achieved and also asks questions on other aspects of the current cattle identification regime.

Part 3: Further Proposals and Costs

Holding register

The introduction of ScotMoves in Scotland in January 2017 heralded the partial introduction of an online holding register for Scottish cattle keepers. It allowed keepers to easily record within business movements (WBM’s).

ScotMoves+ was introduced on 4 October 2021 and is used by all Scottish cattle keepers to report all births, movements and deaths on their holdings. The Scottish Government is now considering whether to introduce a fully online holding register.

A fully online holding register will be of benefit to those carrying out enforcement and inspection activities, would help to ensure staff can be deployed rapidly should that be required and would simplify the inspection process.

A fully online holding register has the potential to reduce delays in movement data being recorded centrally, meaning more timely and accurate notification to the Scottish Ministers. This data is important for disease prevention, control and eradication and the protection of public health and also reduces unnecessary risks in instances of disease outbreaks.

An online holding register would be a central and consolidated source of information which would be of assistance in tracing movements between farms, farms to market, market to farm and farm to abattoir would also be accurate. This would avoid obstacles and delay caused by partial paper-based and database recording.

Some of the expected benefits of use of an online holding register are as follows:

  • markets and abattoirs would be able to record movements to the holding register (resulting in reduced admin burden for cattle keepers, albeit it would remain the keeper’s responsibility to ensure such records were accurate),
  • there would be a single data point (avoiding confusion and reconciliation between different records and different recording times),
  • an audit check could be carried out to confirm that the electronic register matches the physical IDs of the animals on the farm and the numbers of animals on the farm,
  • an audit check when EID is used would instantly confirm the register i.e. there is no intervening manual processes,
  • it would help realise the full benefits if EID, and
  • it could simplify inspection processes for keepers.

We note, however, that there will be cattle keepers who already have electronic holding registers with software packages linking to ScotEID. It is envisaged that keepers would be able to continue to use those systems. Keepers may want to do so given that they may keep ‘management tag’ to ‘official ear tag’ correlation tables within their records. It is recognised that some keepers may also be hesitant about moving to a wholly online system, given there may be keeper reliance on the on-farm holding register to confirm the birth, movement or death details to RPID inspectors.

Reporting and recording timescales

In addition to requirements for information about cattle to be recorded in on-farm holding registers, there are currently requirements for information about cattle to be notified to the Scottish Ministers. There are differences between timescales for such notification and the timescales for recording movements in the on-farm holding register. As an example, keepers must currently notify movements on or off a holding to the Scottish Ministers within 3 days from the date of movement on or off the holding (using ScotMoves+ or by phone call to ScotEID) whilst keepers must update their on-farm holding register within 48 hours of such a movement taking place.

Time periods also vary between central notifications of births and recording same within the on-farm holding register, as shown in the table below.

Animal type Deadline for central notification Deadline for recording in holding register Tagging deadline
Dairy Up to date of application of second tag (up to 20 days from birth) plus 7 days 7 days after birth

First tag - 36 hours after birth.

Second tag - 20 days from after birth*

Non-dairy Up to date of application of second tag (up to 20 days from birth) plus 7 days 30 days after birth Both tags - 20 days after birth*
Bison 7 days after birth 30 days after birth 9 months after birth*

*In all cases both tags must be fitted before leaving the holding of birth. For bison, also when separated from its mother.

The time periods for recording deaths in holding registers and for notifying deaths to the Scottish Ministers are identical. Deaths must be recorded and notified within 7 days.

Given the duplication of data captured and differing timescales, consideration should also be given to aligning the timescales for central notification and recording information in the holding register, particularly of birth recording/reporting timescales of the three animal types in the table above.

The key benefit to alignment of reporting deadlines is better awareness of ‘hooves on the ground’ numbers, which would aid in both disease prevention and disease control.

Question 8 - What are your views on introduction of an online holding register?

Question 9 - Should reporting timescales for births, movements and deaths for holding registers and the central database be aligned?

Question 10 - If yes, what should they be?

Cattle passports

In Scotland passports are issued to keepers via ScotEID. Should bovine EID be introduced, it is proposed that bovine animals will no longer require a paper passport and exchanges will be notified electronically. If required, keepers will be given an option to print off a document (including either a barcode, QR code – or both) containing the passport details from ScotEID to enable movements to other parts of UK.

The Scottish Industry should see benefits in the reduction of paper passports including reduced administrative burden for keepers (throughout the production chain), markets and abattoirs. Removal of paper passports will also lead to significant savings in terms of production costs to the Scottish Government. This is covered in the Business Regulatory Impact Assessment which is included as part of this consultation.

Question 11 - What are your views on the removal of paper passports?



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