I have already stated in a past posting that by law all sheep have to be tagged. Those destined for pies just require one tag, those destined to remain on farms as breeding sheep require two tags.
If a sheep is found to have lost a tag the farmer is required by law to replace that missing tag or pair of tags.
Now I have my ears pierced and over the years I have lost many earrings out of my lugs. Pull your jumper off over your head and hey presto! gone, left with just one lug ring, t'other never to be seen again, mainly due to the fact that it generally takes me days to realise I lost one in the first place.
So sheep don't pull their jumpers off over their heads so they won't have the problem I experience, they just have other problems. Sheep have wool and it can indeed get tangled on their person, they also like to stick their heads through wire fences, they like to feed at hay hecks, they traipse through heather, lie down in dense undergrowth, wander into woods, rub up against things including each other, especially when in the sheep pens. They have a hundred and one ways of managing to lose a tag. They also have the trouble of flies, which irritate them, make them flick their ears around, scrub their heads, kick up with their hind feet - anything to dislodge the pests.
So? Is tagging a welfare issue? It most definitely can be, and unfortunately it is the responsibility of the farmer not those who lay down the regulations to ensure their sheep don't suffer from welfare issues.
When noises have been made it is the farmer who is told he doesn't do the job correctly, it is the farmer who foots the bills for the antibiotics and replacement tags, it is the sheep which can suffer and once ears are healed find themselves having a replacement tag re inserted into their ears, they will have no peace from the dreaded tag until they are dead, and even then, they must have a tag in their ear for the dead cart to collect them.
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