New system for cattle tracing

Scheme will better protect Scotland’s livestock from the spread of disease.

A new online system will make it simpler and easier to trace cattle movements and potentially reduce the impact of a disease outbreak, Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing has confirmed.

The ScotMoves system for cattle moving within a business will replace the current Cattle Tracing Systems (CTS) Links system which will close on 31 December.

Through the ScotMoves system farmers and crofters will be able to notify movements of cattle within their business to a central online holding register, this will make it easier to trace cattle, particularly when there is a need to respond to a disease outbreak or emergency.

Through the previous CTS links system, cattle could be moved between holdings with keepers only recording the move in their on farm holding register, without recording  this on the central database.

In the event of a disease outbreak such as Foot and Mouth Disease the location of over half a million cattle would not be known until animal health inspectors arrived on  farm. This potentially allowed for unreported and unknown contacts between livestock leading to disease transmission, which could significantly prolong the time taken to trace contacts and the time required to eradicate an outbreak.

Mr Ewing said:

“The livestock sector is an integral part of Scotland’s rural economy, with the farming of cattle, sheep and pigs worth £1.1 billion last year so it’s crucial that we do what we can to protect them from disease.

“No-one wants a repeat of the devastation of the 2001 foot and mouth disease which cost our industry between £200 and £300 million.

“In the event of any disease, this new system will make sure we have quick access to high quality accurate information so we can deploy our resources effectively and better protect Scotland’s livestock from the spread of disease.

“ScotMoves will be a modern flexible system that will accommodate the changing needs of businesses while providing greater protection for individual farms and for Scotland as a whole.”


Farmers are not being asked to do more than they did previously – an up-to-date holding register has always been a requirement, and to accommodate the increased focus on it we are allowing 48 hours rather than the existing 36 hours for it to be updated.

Through the CTS Links systems 3000 cattle holdings shared 7000 CTS Links, and while most farmers had only one or two CTS links, some had more than 10 or 20.

The Scottish Government will do what it can to help farmers get used to the new system, and will take a soft launch approach while farmers get used to the changes. A keeper or farmer who is found at official inspection during 2017 to have accidentally breached the ScotMoves movement notification and/or recording requirements will receive only a written warning and not be financially penalised. 

ScotMoves will provide an online holding register which meets legislative requirements.  This is explained in greater detail in the Q&A document posted on the ScotEID and SG webpages at   A helpline is available at the ScotEID Information Centre: tel. 01466 794323; or by email,  



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