Cattle breeders in Corsica urged to better identify their herd

From December, a new electronic identification system for cattle will be deployed on the island. Called Bolus, it aims to solve a large part of the problems linked to this type of breeding and will gradually become a prerequisite for obtaining agricultural aid.

Digressions, illnesses, fraud in agricultural aid, this cylindrical ceramic device, called “Electronic bolus”, would be the perfect solution to many problems related to breeding. It is in any case the preferred choice by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty with regard to cattle herds on the island. Firstly to prevent the proliferation of bovine tuberculosis, a disease present in Corsica, and then in order to be able to better identify the animals, each bovine must be “equipped” with this electronic chip from the end of 2022.

Obligation effective in 2026

The Bolus is a ceramic capsule that each cow must ingest to be identified.  - Doc CM

Widely developed in Spain, this device is not yet very widespread in France, except for monitoring herds affected by diseases. A vast operation will be launched by the regional directorate for food, agriculture and forestry (Draaf) from December in Corsica to deploy the Bolus to volunteer breeders. At the same time as this implementation, new regulations prohibiting access to slaughterhouses for any cattle not equipped with the device are appearing. Knowing that the State tolerates an implementation period of three years under certain conditions, which makes the obligation effective by 2026.

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The principle is simple and painless: the bolus is ingested by the animal and settles by gravity in the cow’s rumen, in other words, its first stomach. It will remain there all its life and will be recovered during the slaughter. It can be checked, like a pet’s microchip, by means of a reader stick which sends back the device’s identification code.

“The installation campaign will take place over a minimum yearsays Lia Bastianelli, head of the identification – Bolus project at Draaf de Corse. The Bolus, whose installation is carried out and paid for by the State, makes it possible to improve the identification of animals. Even an animal that has lost one or two tags will still have its Bolus, which will allow you to find its owner and its health history. It will also no longer be possible to modify the identification of an animal, as during cattle thefts, by unbuckling and rebuckling the animal with new tags.

The choice of the island as the region for setting up the system was made because of the specific character of Corsican farms. A predominantly extensive practice which is accompanied by transhumance and sometimes free movement of herds favoring the loss of ear identification tags and theft of livestock.

Eligibility criteria for agricultural aid

With the deployment of this

“We are going to start the campaign with breeders in December, municipality by municipality, takes over as project manager. Breeders will be contacted individually to be offered an appointment. The priority for us is to equip the cattle eligible for coupled bovine aid since, without Bolus on October 15, 2023, no breeder will be able to receive the aid. For 2023, it is estimated that a little less than 30,000 cattle will need to be equipped, a number which corresponds to herds made up of all or part of eligible cattle.

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A total of 60,000 cattle are declared in the databases, but the authorities estimate that some of them are not equipped because “either they are fictitious, or they wander and therefore have no owner requesting the placement of a Bolus, or they will be slaughtered because the breeder wishes to stop this type of breeding.”

If the Draaf specifies that there is no obligation to equip his herd, for the breeder, the economic loss constitutes a real risk since no unchipped animal will be accepted in the long term in a slaughterhouse on the island. In addition, the Bolus will become compulsory in 2024 or 2025 for any breeder who wishes to receive the compensatory allowance for natural handicaps (ICHN), an aid which applies when production conditions are more difficult than elsewhere, in particular due to natural constraints.

Easy checks

Control of animals presented to the slaughterhouse will thus be simplified, but this will also be the case for administrative checks in the field relating to the identification of herds. “The control of the existence of cattle was not, until now, practiced in a systematic way, observes Lia Bastianelli. To date, work is underway between the State services and the EDEs (Departmental Livestock Establishments) to set up more visits to the farms, in particular those for which anomalies have been observed. The Bolus is one of the tools used to reinforce the cattle identification system. This is an important point because it has sometimes been noted, in certain breeders’ files, the existence of cattle present in the databases but absent on the farm.”

This new identification device is therefore supposed to solve the problem of fraud and make it possible to “focus the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) aid package on breeders engaged in a process of technical-economic and health development of their herd and who value their Corsican beef production”, concludes the project manager.

It should be understood that the aid envelope is closed, that is to say that the amount is fixed and divided by the number of eligible breeders, all species combined. Since the introduction of this aid in Corsica, the number of cattle has increased enormously, mathematically reducing the aid allocated to other sectors, without generating more beef for sale.

Last point, and not least, the Bolus will make it possible to more specifically differentiate between animals that transhumance from those that roam in the wild, since the latter will not be equipped, thus reducing the health risk they represent.

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