Sheep and Goats

The purpose of the Identification and Movement of Sheep and Goats is to make it easier to trace animals.

This system will help to prevent, or to reduce the cost of, an outbreak of a serious disease, such as, Foot and Mouth Disease. The main elements of the system are outlined below and further information can be obtained at the related links section.


The rules regarding the identification of sheep and goats were introduced on 31 December 2009 and replaced all existing arrangements for sheep and goats. This system was introduced in order to comply with the following regulations


  • Lambs must be identified with an EID tag set (EID device and conventional tag) before they reach 9 months of age (or 6 months if normally housed overnight) or before they are moved off the holding, whichever is the earlier.
  • Goats must be identified with two conventional tags with matching numbers before they reach 9 months of age (or 6 months if normally housed overnight) or before they are moved off the holding, whichever is the earlier.
  • Animals identified before 31 December must be upgraded to an EID tag set for sheep and matching double identifiers for goats, before they are moved off the holding.
  • EID tags are yellow and the matching conventional tags can also be yellow, but can be any colour other than red, light blue or black. The tag matching a bolus (and any replacement tags to match a bolus) is light blue.
  • Keepers must replace any tags that have been lost, or that cannot be read, with 28 days of discovery and before the animal leaves their holding.
  • Ear tags should be ordered in advance of them being needed, and sufficient stock of tags should be maintained on the holding, this should include a stock of red replacement tag sets.

Holding Registers

  • An accurate up-to-date flock register must be maintained by recording births, movements on and off a holding (by recording the movement document serial number), replacement tag details, deaths and annual inventory result.

Movement Documents

  • A movement document must be completed each time sheep and goats are moved off a holding and this includes moves to common grazing not adjacent to a holding and moves to Shows.
  • Tag numbers do not need to be recorded on the movement document sheep when are moving sheep to a Central Point of Recording (CPR).
  • The CPR (Market, Meat Plant or Export Assembly Centre) will provide keepers with a list of tag numbers and keepers must check the accuracy of this list and retain it with the flock register.

Retention of Records

  • Flock and Herd Registers, Movement Documents and CPR Documentation must be retained for at least 3 years.

Annual Inventory

  • Keepers must complete their annual inventory on a date between 1 and 5 December each year and either return the card to DARD, or enter their details on APHIS-Online, by 5 January.

Related Links