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Sheep and Goat ID and Traceability in Scotland - 2004 update

DescriptionLetter to Scottish Sheep & Goat Keepers reminding them of the Identification & Traceability rules they must comply with. Graphics show the types of ear-tag to be used in different circumstances.
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateJuly 29, 2004


    Sheep and Goat Traceability in Scotland


    This document is also available in pdf format (197k)

    The Scottish Executive
    Environment and Rural Affairs Department
    Livestock ID & Traceability Branch

    To all Sheep and Goat Keepers

    Pentland House
    47 Robb's Loan
    Edinburgh EH14 1TY

    Telephone: 0131-244 4202
    Fax: 0131-244 1946


    Your ref:
    Our ref: DSK 4
    29 July 2004

    Dear Keeper

    Sheep and Goat Traceability in Scotland - do you want to avoid Double Tagging?

    This letter is being sent to you jointly by the Scottish Executive, NFU Scotland and the National Sheep Association (Scottish Region) due to the importance of this issue.

    SEERAD and Scottish sheep and goat industry bodies helped secure vital derogations from the EU in December 2003 to avoid double tagging. However this is dependant on our current system passing an EU assessment in the next few months. We must be able to demonstrate to the EU inspectors that our current system provides accurate traceability. If we fail to pass this assessment then it is likely that double tagging will be introduced with effect from July 2005. Our sheep and goat traceability system operates to ensure that all animal movements are recorded and where possible the animal's holding of birth is identified. It is vital that all Scottish sheep and goat keepers understand and comply with the rules of our current system.

    The current system is explained in detail in the Dear Keeper letter sent to you on 14 July 2003. If you require another copy please contact either SAMU on 0131 244 4202 or go to http://www.scotland.gov.uk/library5/agri/sagi-00.asp


    Baseline Tags and Tattoos


    Sheep [goats]moving from their holding of birth must be baseline tagged/tattooed with the holding of birth's UK flock number and a 6 digit individual number. The Baseline tag/tattoo should preferably be in the animal's left ear. See example to the left.

    • Baseline Tattoo for sheep[goats] moving from their holding of birth should read: 123456 118

    UK marks can only be used for animals born on your holding


    Sheep [goats]noton their holding of birth and not already baseline tagged/tattooed must be identified prior to moving off your holding with a baseline tag or tattoo. Tag format: S + Flock number of the current location + a unique 6 digit individual number.

    • The tattoo format is S 123456 123

    • This tag/tattoo should preferably be in the left ear. See example to the left. These animals will have been brought onto your holding prior to 18 February 2002 and they are eligible for export.

    Lost Baseline tags must be replaced


    • If you know the lost baseline tag's exact details you may apply a tag with the same details

    • If you are unsure of the details on the lost baseline tag, you must apply a Replacement tag. This tag must be Red and should preferably go in the left ear.

    • It should be in the format:
      UK + Flock number of its current location + a unique 6 digit number + R. See example to the left.

    Movement Tags


    • A Movement tag must be applied when an animal leaves a location other than where the baseline tag/tattoo was applied

    • You can apply up to a maximum of 3 Official tags. Movement tags should be placed in the opposite ear to the baseline tag/tattoo. See example on the left. The format is:

    • S + Flock number of its current location

    • No individual number should be used on a Movement tag

    • If you decide not to apply a Movement tag or the animal already has 3 Official tags, you must record its baseline tag details on the movement document.

    • The July 2003 Dear Keeper letter gives more details on these 4 types of tags and when they should be used. Please read it carefully to ensure you use the correct tag type and format.

    Movement Documents and notifying moves to SAMU

    These are also vital components of our current traceability system - please refer to the July 2003 Dear Keeper letter for detailed requirements

    If the EU inspectors are not satisfied that our current system is operating well enough to give the level of traceability they require, it is likely double tagging will be a requirement from July 2005.

    Further Changes arising from new EU legislation in July 2005

    There will be further changes to the system in July 2005 and these will be notified to you next spring. They include enhancements to the movement document, the introduction of an Ear Tag Allocation System (ETAS) similar to cattle and the need for ear-tags to meet a minimum design standard. For this reason you may wish to minimise the number of tags you order from your supplier in the next 12 months.

    Overall our current system is working well but it is important that all sheep and goat keepers comply with the rules and high levels of compliance are maintained. Enforcement officers will be undertaking spot checks at markets, abattoirs and on-farm to check for compliance.

    Thank you for your assistance.


    The Scottish Animal Movement System (SAMS) for sheep and goats has 5 main elements:

    • Baseline Tags and Tattoos

    • Replacement (R) Tags

    • Movement (S) Tags

    • Movement Documents

    • Notification of Movements to SAMU by keepers, markets and abattoirs

    Please ensure you understand and comply with the requirements of SAMS by reading the content of this letter.

    If you are no longer the keeper of sheep or goats please inform your local Animal Health office or advise SAMU using the contact details above.