The EU council of ministers has agreed to introduce electronic tags for millions of sheep and goats across Europe by the end of 2009. The move is part of a strategy to prevent epidemics of contagious diseases like foot-and-mouth.
The tag, which will be carried by the animal either on its ear or inside its digestive tract, will contain unique identifier codes that can be read using a portable or a fixed electronic reader. The aim is to trace the animal rapidly and accurately in the event of a disease outbreak, so that the number of cases of disease can be controlled. The electronic identification device was originally due to come into force in 2008, but the move was delayed after an European Commission report released in November said the technology was not yet developed enough and was too costly.
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