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IT'S A MOOSTERY; Irish farmers left in an udder mess as they can't find 500,000 missing cattle..and that's no bull.

Byline: By CLAIRE O'BOYLE

IRISH farmers have been left scratching their heads after half a million cattle went missing.

A nationwide register found around 500,000 animals are not accounted for since 2003.

The Computerised Cattle Monitoring System showed an average of 2,400 cows disappeared every week between 2002 and 2006.

None of the missing livestock were listed in export or death registers.

Agriculture officials doubt the 500,000 beasts are roaming the mountains of Ireland and believe there is a problem with record keeping.

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association said the failure to document five per cent of the country's cattle was due to deaths and slaughters being inefficiently recorded in the past.

ICSFA boss Eddie Punch said: "I don't think there is a very large number of animals all hiding out up on a mountain somewhere.

"The figures deemed to have vanished could relate to animals up to 10 years ago.

"Only now are animals that died up to a decade ago being taken out of the system.

"What we are seeing is a hangover from the past where the reporting was less tight and these glitches just appear now."

But Mr Punch did acknowledge sheep and cattle do sometimes disappear from farms mysteriously.

He added: "From time to time animals go missing on farms in mountain areas. They might die in the woods and never be found.

"But I have to stress that this is just a fraction of the overall figure that is said to be deleted."

The latest figures have been publicised by the ICSFA to expose the increased red tape Ireland's farmers have to put up with.

Mr Punch said: "What we are now seeing is a computerised registry that is one of the most accurate in Europe.

"This is largely due to the hard work carried out by farmers, who are faced with a mountain of bureaucracy after they finish their work outside every day.

"The authorities were probably not notified in the past but now due to the burdensome mountain of paperwork, farmers now have these deaths recorded."

news@irishmirror.ie

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ON THE LAMB: Register found thousands of missing livestock; FIGURES: Eddie Punch
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 18, 2007
Words:366
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