Publication - Advice and guidance

Sheep and goat identification and traceability: guidance for keepers in Scotland

Guidance for keepers on complying with the requirements to identify, record and report movements of sheep and goats.

35 page PDF

2.0 MB

35 page PDF

2.0 MB

Contents
Sheep and goat identification and traceability: guidance for keepers in Scotland
Section 1: Identification – sheep

35 page PDF

2.0 MB

Section 1: Identification – sheep

When to identify

Lambs born on your holding must be identified:

  • within six months of birth if the animals are housed overnight;
  • within nine months of birth if the animals are not housed overnight (kept in extensive conditions); or
  • before the animal moves from its holding of birth, if earlier.

Animals that die before the above deadlines do not need to be identified.

The identifiers

Identifiers are applied on the holding of birth. The type of identifier used depends on whether the animal is a fully EID identified animal (one that will not be slaughtered before it is 12 months of age) or a slaughter animal (one that is intended for slaughter within 12 months of birth).

Identifiers can be ear tags, tattoos, pastern tags or boluses.

Choice of combination of identifiers for fully EID identified animals

EID identifier tagno

Conventional identifier

Use of combination for intra-Community trade

EID ear tag

conventional ear tag

yes

EID ear tag

tattoo[1]

no

EID ear tag

conventional pastern tag

yes

EID bolus

conventional ear tag (must be black)

yes

EID bolus

conventional pastern tag (must be black)

yes

EID pastern tag

conventional ear

Identification and numbers for fully EID identified animals

Animals born or identified after 31 December 2009 and kept for breeding or beyond 12 months of age must be identified with two identifiers and the following applies:

one identifier must be electronic and the other a conventional (as per the table on page 5);

both identifiers must have the same individual number – a zero then your unique flockmark followed by a five-digit animal number;

replacement identifiers applied off the holding of birth must be red (including replacement EID identifiers);

if a bolus is used, the non-electronic ear or pastern tag must be black. Black tags may be only used with a bolus.

The same letters and numbers will be printed on both identifiers and be programmed into the electronic chip. This means you can read the number physically or with an electronic reader.

Identification and numbers for slaughter lambs

These animals are identified by a single electronic batch tag, known as a slaughter tag, although you can use two identifiers as for fully EID identified animals if you want to. The electronic slaughter tag only has the flockmark printed on the outside of the tag.

Historic flock – sheep born before 31 December 2009

You do not need to replace the identifiers that are already on sheep, identified before 31 December 2009, with electronic identifiers unless you specifically choose to do so. This is not a requirement, only an option.

If you choose to replace the identifiers, you will need to apply two matching identifiers, one of which must be electronic. You may find this is the most practical approach from 2012 when some sheep born before 31 December 2011 will need to be individually recorded in your movement document.

Any older animal born before the 9 July 2005 that has not been previously identified must now be identified under the new requirements before they leave the holding of birth.

Flockmarks

The flockmark on the identifier must be that of the holding the sheep was born on, unless the identifier is a replacement applied on a different holding, or the sheep is born on common grazing as part of a Crofting Township. In this instance you should use the flockmark of the home holding.

Where to get ear tags and identification numbers

Ear tag approval system

We officially approve all identifiers that manufacturers supply for official identification purposes. All approved ear tags have completed the approval procedures and will have 'PAS 66' printed or embossed on them.

Ear tag allocation system

All sheep and goat ear tag numbers are allocated by the Government's Ear Tag Allocation System (ETAS). ETAS keep a list of suppliers of official tags and approved electronic identifiers. To see this list, search under 'EID' or 'RFID' (radio frequency identification) on the RPA website at www.rpa.gov.uk.

When you place an order, the supplier will confirm your flockmark and give you:

  • individual identifiers with a sequential run of numbers (you cannot choose these numbers and they will be issued in sequence); or
  • batch tags showing the flockmark only.

Reserved colours for tags

Black:for ear or pastern tags where the sheep has an EID bolus

Red: for replacement tags only (including EID identifiers)

The EID identifier in Scotland can be any colour, however, we recommend that you use yellow to follow the position in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who have reserved this colour for EID identifiers. You should check with your purchasers and suppliers for any preferences they may have.

The numbers and letters on all identifiers must be a different colour to the background of the identifier and must be clearly readable. You may use any colour, other than the reserved ones (red and black) for non-electronic tags and management tags. For official identification, you must only use approved identifiers.

Tags left over from before 31 December 2009

Slaughter tags

You cannot use old stocks of these tags because they include an individual number. Slaughter tags for use from 31 December 2009 only have a flockmark printed on them, which means that you will not have to individually record them.

Red replacement tags with individual number

You cannot use old stocks of these tags because they were supplied as a single tag and the rules from 31 December 2009 require two identical numbered replacements to be applied for the historic flock.

Set of double conventional tags with same number

You can use these tags as replacements on your animals born before 31 December 2009 (historic flock) but only for animals still on their holding of birth. You cannot use these tags if they are black.

Management information on your tags

When you order your identifiers, you can ask your manufacturer to add extra information as long as:

  • the extra information is shown separately from the official identification; and
  • the official animal identification remains clear and readable at all times.

You may also apply a management tag to your animal, but it must not contain the letters 'UK', show the flockmark, nor be red or black.

Time allowed to replace identifiers that are lost or can no longer be read

If your sheep loses its identifier or it becomes impossible to read, you must replace the identifier:

  • no later than 28 days after the tag was removed or discovered to be lost or illegible; or
  • before the sheep is moved from your holding if earlier; and
  • record the replacement in your holding register.

Replacements

The replacement rules are the same for full EID and those in the historic flock. You have two options when you need to replace a lost tag, these are:

Replacements using the original number (one tag lost)

Here you apply a replacement tag which has the same identification number as the original and then record that a replacement has been made in the holding register. You would need to order the identical replacement tag from your supplier.

Replacements using new numbers (one tag lost)

Here you would remove the remaining tag and apply two new matching identifiers from your stock of tags. If the animal was born or identified after 31 December 2009 and kept for breeding or beyond 12 months of age one of the identifiers must be electronic and:

  • if not on holding of birth – the replacements must be red;
  • if the animal was identified before 31 December 2009, replacing with an EID identifier is optional;
  • you must cross reference the old number and the new number in the holding register, except for an animal from the historic flock still on the holding of birth, where no cross referencing is necessary.

Where both tags are lost

Here you can:

  • apply two identical (like for like) tags if you know the number of the original tags; or
  • apply two new tags (must be red if the animal is not on the holding of birth). Cross reference in the holding register if you know the original tag number. If you do not know the animal's identification number, you must still record that a replacement has been applied in the holding register.

Replacement tag – slaughter animals

Apply a new slaughter tag.

If the animal is not on the holding of birth, the replacement tag must be red. Where the original flockmark is known this should be cross referenced in the holding register. Where you do not know the flockmark, you should record that a replacement has been applied in the holding register.

Replacements – where the sheep has an EID bolus

If the sheep has a bolus as an electronic identifier, any replacement ear tag or pastern tag must have the same animal identification number and must be black. If the bolus fails or cannot be read the animal should be re-identified using an EID tag or EID pastern – you should not insert a new bolus.

Replacements – where the sheep has a tattoo

If the sheep has a tattoo and loses its other identifier, the replacement electronic identifier must have the same number as the tattoo. However, should the tattoo become illegible then it should be replaced with a conventional ear tag.

Recording replacements in the holding register

In all cases when a tag is replaced, you must record this in your holding register. If the replacement has the same identification number as the original, this should be recorded in your holding register. If new numbered replacements have been used for double identified animals, record the identification number of the replacement identifier and cross reference with the new number.

In the case of sheep which are not electronically identified and are still on their holding or birth, no cross reference is needed but you must make a record of the replacement in your holding register.

Upgrading slaughter lambs to breeding animals (full EID)

Lambs originally identified with a single batch slaughter tag must be upgraded to full EID if you intend to keep them after they reach 12 months of age.

Sheep identified with a slaughter tag can be upgraded to full EID as long as they are completely traceable. In this case the following conditions will apply.

ter.

Still on the holding of birth

Action required

  • slaughter tag should be removed;
  • replaced with two matching identifiers, one of which must be electronic;
  • record the replacement in your holding register.

ter.

No longer on holding of birth

Action required

These animals can only be upgraded where complete traceability[2] can be demonstrated.

  • slaughter tag should be removed;
  • replaced with two matching identifiers, one of which must be electronic;
  • record the replacement in your holding regis

Lambs identified with a slaughter tag where traceability cannot be proven must be slaughtered by the time they reach 12 months of age.


Contact

Email: Animal.Health@gov.scot