Identification & Traceability Guidelines for Keepers (Unofficial Summary)

New rules for sheep and goat identification and recording came into force on 31 December 2009.
This is an unofficial condensed and simplified summary of the official guidelines. The official guidelines should always be refered to as the preeminent source of guidance.

There are five key elements. 

  1. Register as a keeper on every holding that you use
  2. Identify each of your animals
  3. Keep your records up to date
  4. Complete movement documents for every move
  5. Notify movements of animals to the Scottish Animal Movement Unit (SAMU)

Sheep identification

  • All sheep born or identified after 31 December 2009 must be identified with an electronic identifier
  • All sheep kept beyond 12 months must be double identified, with one electronic identifier and one non electronic identifier
  • All slaughter animals must be identified with a single electronic identifier (known as a batch tag) showing only the flockmark

Goat identification

  • Electronic identification is not compulsory for goats
  • All goats kept beyond 12 months must be double identified (born or identified after 31 December 2009)
  • All slaughter animals must be identified with a single identifier (batch tag) showing only the herdmark

Holding register

  • From 31 December 2009 every fully EID identified sheep and double identified goat must be individually recorded in the holding register when the animal is first identified, dies or moves to another holding
  • Slaughter animals are always recorded as a batch or a batch within a batch
  • You never have to record the individual identification number of animals born or identified before 31 December 2009 (known as ‘Historic Animals’), (except for moves to shows)

Movement document

  • From 31 December 2010 every fully EID identified sheep and double identified goat born or identified after 31 December 2009 must be recorded on the movement document
  • From 31 December 2011 every animal must be recorded in the movement document
  • However, if you move animals through a critical control point (such as a market or abattoir) they will record this for you
  • Where animals are moved from one holding to another but the ownership of the animals does not change, an entry should be recorded in the holding register and a movement document completed, showing the number of animals moved at batch level
Within the guidelines what is the definition of keeper?
'keeper' shall means any person (veterinary practices or clinics excluded) with natural or legal responsibility for the animals, even if only on a temporary basis.
When do I have to identify my sheep and goats?
Within 6 months of birth if the animals are housed overnight or within 9 months if they are not or before the animal leaves the holding of birth if sooner
What is Electronic Identification (EID)?
EID makes use of a radio frequency microchip that can be read by using an electronic reader. The microchip is inserted in and ear tag, a bolus or a pastern tag and contains the animal’s individual number.
Do I need to buy a reader to read EID tags?
No. The EU Regulation does not mandate electronic recording and keepers can choose to manually record numbers instead. The use of CCP’s in Scotland will also reduce the need for keepers to carry out individual recording at the farm level.
What is a CCP?
A CCP is a Critical Control Point, such as a market or abattoir that will electronically read the animal’s individual number on behalf of the keepers.
Are there reserved colours for tags?
The EID identifier in Scotland can be any colour, however it is recommended that they are yellow to follow the colour to be used in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Black must be used when the EID identifier is a bolus and red is used for any replacement tags for animals no longer on their holding of birth.
What is the Scottish EID research pilot and how do I become involved?
The Scottish EID research pilot is aimed at finding workable and cost effective solutions to EID in Sheep. To join the pilot click here.