Farmers are questioning why they should invest in electronic ear tags before they are made mandatory.
Under the National Animal Identification and Traceability programme (NAIT) the tags will be made compulsory for cattle and deer by 2011.
The Animal Health Board recently approved the use of NAIT-compliant tags under its programme to control bovine tuberculosis in cattle and deer.
NAIT chair Ian Corney says there is a "better than even" chance the programme will get the go-ahead so farmers are better off using the approved tags now to avoid the additional cost of having to fit another ear tag later on.
However, Federated Farmers dairy vice-chairman Willy Leferink says farmers would not lose out by waiting until the scheme's mandatory, as the tags are a small part of the scheme and there is no clear understanding yet of the requirements.