Friday, July 8, 2022

Deer farmers receptive to NAIT

With just more than two weeks to go deer farmers are ready and waiting to join the National Animal Identification and Tracing Scheme (NAIT). Most deer farmers have been receptive and keen to understand the requirements of their industry’s obligated entry to NAIT, Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ) chief executive Mark O’Connor said. From March 1 NAIT will be mandatory for deer. “NAIT has been a long time in the making and deer farmers have had plenty of opportunity to understand and get ready,” O’Connor said.

More than two years ago the NZ Deer Farmers Association (NZDFA) identified several concerns and through good leadership entered extensive consultations with NAIT. As a result it had achieved the best options and opportunities for deer farmers, O’Connor said.

“This proactive interest and planning, alongside any teething problems with cattle over the past 12 months, has us as an industry well prepared and ready to go.”

NAIT for cattle became mandatory in July 2012.

Initial concerns for deer included requirement to tag capital stock but exemptions were negotiated.

There are three exemptions to the NAIT tagging regulations for deer:

  • There is a three-year exemption period for animals born before March 1, 2013, to be tagged with NAIT-approved RFID tags unless they are being moved off-farm.
  • Tags on trophy stags can be removed with NAIT’s permission if they are being sent to a game park. This can be done by the game park operator or on the farm of origin. NAIT needs to be informed if a tag is removed and must also be advised of the change in the animal’s location.
  • Tag retention for young fallow deer is a recognised management issue and farmers can apply to NAIT for permission not to tag fallow deer.

A bonus to tagging was the different colours allowed in tags that added as a management tool, O’Connor said. NAIT-approved ear tags for deer have an orange female portion and the back part of the tag can be any colour but white, which is the cattle tag colour.

“This means in effect farmers can use their own colours, alongside the orange female portion, for identifying different age deer and so the tag becomes dual purpose as an on-farm herd management tool,” he said.

The NZDFA has negotiated a deal with Leader products offering a 30-40c per tag discount, depending on the tag type, for all NZDFA members.

Most of the rules that apply to cattle also apply to deer.

Deer farmers can register for a NAIT number by visiting the NAIT website or asking a NAIT-accredited information provider to complete a registration on their behalf. For help with registration or for a list of NAIT-accredited information providers, phone 0800 624 843. NAIT-accredited information providers are also listed on the NAIT website.

In an update on NAIT, chief executive Russell Burnard said the scheme was away to a good start. Almost 60,000 people were registered with NAIT as a person in charge of animals and tagging compliance had been much higher and faster than expected.

More than 95% of cattle arriving at saleyards were NAIT tagged.

“Farmers have really stepped up and are meeting their obligations under the NAIT scheme. Our focus now is to make sure that cattle and deer are being tagged within six months of birth, registered in the NAIT system within one week of being tagged and their movements are being recorded,” Burnard said.

Work on the NAIT system was ongoing to make it more user friendly, based on feedback received from farmers. Recent improvements included the ability to reply to emails sent from the NAIT system to confirm movements. More changes would be made over the coming months.

NAIT had worked closely with the deer industry to make sure farmers were ready, including 10 road shows prior to Christmas.

Regulations to support compliance with the NAIT scheme were introduced last month. This included a range of infringement fines that related to people not complying with the scheme.

Burnard said most farmers were trying to comply and the focus remained on education and assistance to help people meet their obligations.

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