AUSTRALIA’S goat industry is working to ensure ear tagging options for harvested rangeland goats are retained in a proposed national mandatory electronic tag identification system for sheep and goats.
Harvested rangeland goats sent direct from property of capture to slaughter or via a registered depot currently do not need a National Livestock Identification System ear tag.
NSW goat producers attending a webinar this week on moving to a mandatory national EID tagging system for sheep and goats were told support was needed to retain the tag-free option for captured rangeland goats.
Goat Industry Council of Australia vice president Katie Davies said the council and the NSW Farmers Goat Committee were pushing very hard to ensure the tag-free movement option is retained.
“But in all honesty that will be a decision that is made probably at the national level.
“We need support from producers to make sure that this tag-free movement option is retained, that would be great,” she said.
All farmed goats will need to be tagged on property exit
Chair of the NSW government-industry Sheep and Goat Traceability Reference Group Dougal Gordon confirmed that any harvested rangeland goats not sent direct from capture to slaughter or via one registered goat depot and are placed in a paddock to grow out, will require an EID tag before any movement off property.
Mr Gordon said the current EID tagging arrangements being finalised are for farmed goats, with the webinar moderator stating that a farmed goat is defined as any goat that is not a harvested rangeland goat and is managed or semi-managed on a property and is subject to animal husbandry procedures and/or in a managed breeding program.
Ms Davies said a captured rangeland nanny kept for breeding would be considered part of a managed breeding program.
“The definition is any animal husbandry or management practice.
“So unless the nanny is captured direct from a wild state in a rangeland and is trucked out immediately, that is considered a management practice,” she said.
“So if a nanny is behind wire with a billy it is in a semi-managed program, even if it is not a specific breeding program.
“Any retention of those animals behind wire with any genetic input or any animal husbandry practice employed on them, they are then a farmed goat.”
Ms Davies said harvested rangeland goats being sold property-to-property have always required a tag before they leave the property of capture.
“So the only tag-free option is direct from capture to slaughter or direct to one registered goat depot.”
Is there a traceability advantage in EID tagging goats for slaughter?
A webinar participant questioned the traceability advantage in EID tagging semi-managed rangeland goats only on exit from a property to slaughter compared to recording that movement using the mob-based system.
Ms Davies said any management of goats makes them not eligible for tag-free movement.
“But I fully support (the) comment, in the fact that, what is the increase in traceability by placing a tag in that animal from property of capture via direct to slaughter?
“But it’s not for me to make that decision, I can only go on what the current rules are,” she said.
“But I think the question about the traceability, harking back to what (participant) has written, needs to be questioned.”
NSW DPI aware of goat handling safety issues
Webinar participant Richard Wilson queried that all goats behind fences should have an EID tag and raised worker safety with tagging rangeland goats as an issue.
“Some fences are goat proof and some aren’t, so the comment that anything that is under wire is managed I find a pretty loose statement, especially on a property where fences are slowly being improved and has a lot of rangeland.
“But we intend to manage them a little bit better than what we have, which doesn’t mean they are going to be in a goat-proof fence.
“The other thing is we might put a tag in them when we bring a mob in and it’s crazy doing the big bucks and the big crazy nannies, you’re likely to get stabbed with a horn from an angry animal, so there are a lot of issues with doing it.”
Mr Wilson said if kids were tagged they could travel across a number of neighbouring properties before they were sold.
Mr Gordon said the reference group was aware of the work health and safety issues with tagging goats, but agents had queried why tagging goats should be any different from tagging ‘mickey’ bulls. He said there was a great opportunity to improve goat handling equipment to reduce risks and agreed tag retention was an issue.
“The other comment I would make is that the requirement to tag is only upon leaving the property, so hopefully that will help reduce the risks on your particular operation of losing those tags.”
Although Mr Gordon acknowledged that given the ability of goats to challenge fences and escape, not tagging goats until exit from a property might represent a gap in traceability and a potential biosecurity risk.
“Absolutely, this is something that we are aware of as well; there is not going to be a water-tight system here, we can only do the best that we can.
“The same goes with cattle with property-to-property movements; that’s the key issue we’ve got in terms of gaps with that particular livestock species,” he said.
“The on-farm benefits are maximised if you apply that tag, let’s say at weaning for example, rather than just upon exit , because you are able to take into account that lifetime traceability and obviously the genetics and other traits that you can actually then target.”
All animals need to carry EID. The industry requires proper kill sheet reports per animal. The personal safety and animal welfare argument is not valid as personal injuries occur in farmed goats and any animal incurs trauma at tagging. We need to improve handling equipment and methods.