Red meat FAQ

Why do sheep need ID tags?

On your own farm tags may be irrelevant. You know your sheep by their faces, voices, wool colour, behaviour or possibly by the shape of their horns. After slaughter all these outward signs and behavioural clues are absent.

Abattoirs identify carcasses, and at a later stage packages of meat, by owner name and sheep tag number. This makes it possible for all meat to be traced back to the farm of origin and to a specific animal. This is what traceability means.

This only works if all sheep arrive at the abattoir with tags IN THEIR EARS, not in their owner’s hand or pocket. Identification of all animals that leave their birth farm for any reason has been required for a number of years. Tags can be ordered from Canadian Co-op Wool Growers in Lethbridge by phoning 1 800-567-3693. Your name and the tag numbers issued to you are kept on record. The tags are intended for use on your farm only. If you “borrow” tags from another farm this means that in the case of a suspected meat quality problem your sheep will be identified as coming from somebody else’s farm. This is a sure way to lose friends.

Sheep arriving at the abattoir untagged will not be unloaded because they cannot be processed without individual identification. If you have bought tags and would like help putting them in please write a message to the abattoir by clicking Contact and we will find someone to help you learn how to do it.