Local pedigree cattle breeders remain in limbo when selling livestock at premier society sales in Britain.

Since 1 January 2021, new export rules under the NI Protocol have meant that local breeders moving cattle and sheep to sales or shows in Britain, cannot return animals to the farm of origin without completing a six-month residency.

However, in December 2021, the European Commission proposed a new Export Health Certificate (EHC), which would allow animals to come back to NI as long as they spend less than 15 days in Britain.

NI bulls would be ruled out of pre-sale judging and either sold through a separate ring, or at the end of a sale

But various conditions apply, including that NI livestock must be penned and sold separately from those coming from farms in Britain.

However, local breeders, breed societies and auctioneers in Britain maintain that the new EHC is unworkable.

“NI bulls would be ruled out of pre-sale judging and either sold through a separate ring, or at the end of a sale, rather than normal catalogued order” said one leading auctioneer.

NI breeders can still move animals to sales in Britain under the original rules that came into effect on 1 January 2021.

Under these arrangements, animals can enter pre-sale shows, do not need separate lairage and are sold in catalogue order as normal.

However, if an animal goes unsold, the breeder must find a buyer outside the ring, sell for slaughter or else comply with the six-month residency period.

Ongoing consultation

Sources maintain that stakeholders and farm organisations are continuing to try to find a workable resolution to the current situation.

Some have called for premier sales in Britain to become export-approved.

This would allow all UK-born animals to move directly to NI from sales.

But in the case of cattle, it would require breeders in Britain to TB-test animals prior to sales, and that could prove unpopular among herd owners in areas with a four-year testing interval.

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