A legislative delay in Parliament has delayed the compulsory start of a national animal identification scheme.
Mandatory tagging of cattle using radio frequency ear tags was due to start in November this year. It depended on a bill to enforce the scheme being passed.
But the Government has advised the company implementing the NAIT animal identification and traceability programme, that that passage of legislation won't be possible before the general election.
NAIT chief executive Russell Burnard says compulsory tagging won't now be introduced until mid to late next year, but farmers are advised to continue preparing for electronic ear tagging on a voluntary basis in the meantime.
He says farmers are already switching over to the new radio frequency ear tags, especially in the dairy industry.
Deer are scheduled to be brought into the NAIT scheme in March 2013, but there are no plans to include sheep at this stage.
Federated Farmers says the delay provides an opportunity to improve NAIT.
The federation has always questioned the compulsory nature of the scheme.
Dairy chair Lachlan Mckenzie says the delay provides a chance to upgrade the technology that will be used to record and trace livestock, in particular the use of an ultra-high frequency ear tags, that are currently not approved for use in the NAIT system.