Information for keepers of cattle

This advice is designed to provide basic guidance to traders. It is not a complete or authoritative statement of the law. Please note that some of the advice we provide to businesses is chargeable.


If you do not have a County Parish Holding number and Herd number you must contact DEFRA to obtain one. County Parish Holding numbers for Hampshire stock keepers are in the format 15/123/4567 and Herd numbers are six digits beginning 28, e.g 281234.

Contact DEFRA on 03000 200 301 and follow prompts for the APHA.

Notify BCMS (British Cattle Movement Service) on 0845 050 1234. They will also update their records and issue you with labels for use on your passport movement cards.

For further information contact the Animal Health and Welfare Section of Hampshire Trading Standards Service on 01962 833 621.


Cattle can only move on and off holdings if they are accompanied by properly completed passports.

The BCMS must be notified of all cattle movements within 3 days of them taking place.

Movements to and from show grounds must be notified to BCMS in the same way as farm to farm movements.

Cattle must e properly identified with ear tags before any movement takes place.

Movement cards and passports

To notify BCMS of a cattle movement, you can use CTS online (see below)

If the details of the animal shown on the passport appear to be incorrect, you must notify BCMS immediately. If it is agreed that the information needs updating, the system will be amended and a correct passport sent to you.

If a passport is lost/damaged/stolen, you can apply to BCMS for a replacement. There may be a charge for this.

To apply for a passport for a calf (born on your holding) either:

  • use the pre-printed application form which is sent out automatically when an order for ear tags is confirmed
  • use CTS online

A keeper must apply for passports within 7 days of the animal being tagged to comply with European Legislation.

In the case of an animal going to slaughter, the keeper must complete the tear out piece of the passport and send it to BCMS for processing. This enables the movement of the animal off of the holding to be recorded. The passport then travels with the animal and upon the death of the animal, the slaughter house operator will complete the details on the back page of the passport and return the whole thing to BCMS.

If the animal dies or is slaughtered anywhere other than a licensed premises, the keeper of the animal at the time of death must complete the back page of the passport and return the passport to BCMS.

CTS – Cattle Tracing System (Online)

CTS is a free site, the only fee you pay will be to whoever provides your internet connection.

To use the website you need a user ID and password. To receive these either:

  • call the BCMS Helpline
  • email BCMS with your name, address and CPH number saying that you would like to register to use CTS online

CTS Online can be used for the following:

  • to report cattle movements
  • check the movement history of an animal
  • record the death of an unregistered animal
  • check the list of all cattle on your holding
  • download info on your cattle for use in your farm management programme
  • register the birth of calves

Only you will be able to see data relating to your holding on CTS Online.

Failure to notify BCMS of movements, births or deaths of animals on your premise may lead to a herd restriction being applied to your holding.


Cattle born on or after 1 January 1998 must have a DEFRA approved ear tag in each ear (double tagging). Both the tags must have the same unique number. This is the number that will be on the animals passport and will stay with it throughout it's life.

Ear tags must be ordered from a DEFRA approved supplier, this will include most agricultural supplies merchants.

Keepers are authorised to obtain up to maximum of one year's supply of ear tags.

The tags used for double tagging are known as primary and secondary tags.

Primary tags are yellow plastic and feature the GB logo - the symbol of a crown, along with the animal's unique identification number.

Secondary tags must have the animal's unique identification number and be of an approved model and material. It must be in the opposite ear to the primary tag. It can also feature any management information that may be required.

All cattle must be tagged with both tags within 20 days of birth.

In the case of dairy animals, at least one tag must be fitted within 36 hours of birth.

All cattle must be double tagged with the correct ear tags before leaving their holding of birth.

Movement records

All keepers of cattle must keep movement records, these can be in kept in a movement record book or on computer. If kept on a computer you must enter the same information as required by the movement record book, and be able to print a hard copy should an Inspector require it.

The information recorded in the movement books must be kept up to date. The keeper of the animals is responsible for entering the details of all cattle births, deaths and movements.

Movements onto and off the holding must be entered within 36 hours.

Births in a dairy herd must be entered within 7 days.

Births in other than a dairy herd within 30 days of the birth.

Deaths must be recorded within 7 days