THE North-East will be one of three areas to test the electronic identification of thousands of sheep.

ADAS will carry out trials of EID and electronic data transfer for the English sheep industry, assessing how easy the equipment is to use and looking at training and support requirements for its use on farms, in abattoirs and at markets.

The trials in the North-East, South-West and Midlands will involve a minimum of 50 lowland, upland and hill farms, selected to ensure a full range of environmental conditions, production systems and farmer attitudes towards the technology.

About 70,000 sheep will be electronically identified, using a range of eartags and boluses.

The use of EID and EDT will also be tested in a small number of markets and abattoirs at key stages during the sheep production cycle.

Practical work on farms will begin between March and May. ADAS will supply all the equipment and give training. Initial findings are expected by the end of September, with a final report in June 2005.

Updates on progress will be available on the Defra web site.