Sheep - identification, records and movement
- This guidance is for England
Sheep that were born or identified on or after 31 December 2009, and are not intended for slaughter under 12 months of age, must be electronically identified and individually recorded in your flock register.
When moving these animals they must be recorded individually on your movement document (ARAMS-1, in paper or electronic form) unless you are moving them between premises that are part of your county parish holding (CPH) number and within a 10 mile radius of your 'point of business' (usually the postal address of your main animal handling point) or you move them through a central point recording centre (CPRC). These sheep will generally be your breeding stock but may also be sheep you keep for whatever reason beyond 12 months of age (including pets).
You do not need to electronically identify sheep that were already officially identified before 31 December 2009; neither do you need to record these animals individually in your holding register. However, as of 1 January 2015, the requirement to record individual animal numbers on movement documents (ARAMS-1) extended to the historic flock.
There are different rules for sheep destined for slaughter within 12 months of birth.
- Before moving sheep to your holding
If you want to keep sheep you will first require a CPH number, which identifies the land where they will be kept.
To apply for a CPH number you need to contact the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) customer registration helpline on 03000 200 301.
- Notification of holdings
An occupier of a holding who begins to keep sheep on that holding, and any person who takes over the occupation of a holding where sheep are kept, must notify the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) of their name and address, and the address of the holding. This must be done within one month. APHA should be contacted on 03000 200 301 or email@example.com. They will provide you with your flock number at this stage.
You must also notify APHA, within one month, if you stop keeping sheep.
- When should I identify my sheep?
Lambs born on your holding must be identified within the following timescales:
- 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')
Lambs must be identified before they leave their holding of birth (including moves to slaughter, temporary grazing, common grazing, market, etc) whether or not the six / nine months have passed.
- What can I identify my sheep with?
Sheep can be identified with any of the following identification devices:
- ear tags
- pastern tags
What is used depends on whether the animal is a full EID-identified animal (generally one that will not be slaughtered before it is 12 months old) or a slaughter animal (one that is intended for slaughter within 12 months of birth).
More information on the types and combinations of identification devices can be found on the GOV.UK website.
However, there are different rules that are dependent on when your sheep were born or identified.
- Sheep born before 31 December 2009
Before 1 January 2001, sheep did not need to be identified with a permanent mark.
Between 1 January 2001 and February 2003, sheep were identified with a single ear tag showing a UK flock mark but not an individual animal number.
If these sheep lose their tag or need to be moved, you must double identify them with identification devices that have the same individual animal number (one of which may be electronic, which would make the animal a full EID-identified animal).
Sheep born between February 2003 and 10 January 2008 were identified with a single tag bearing a flock mark and individual number.
Sheep born between 11 January 2008 and 30 December 2009 were identified by double tags bearing a flock mark and individual number.
Sheep identified before 31 December 2009 do not need to be electronically identified and you do not need to replace the identification devices that are already on the sheep.
Current Defra and industry advice is that full EID should be used as individual animal numbers must be recorded and reported. There are various options regarding upgrading the identification devices for such sheep. Further guidance on identification devices for the historic flock can be found on the GOV.UK website under Replace lost or damaged identifiers.
- Sheep born or identified since 31 December 2009
Full EID-identified animals should have two identification devices, one of which must be electronic.
The identification code on both must contain the letters 'UK' followed by a '0', the six-digit 'flock number' and the five-digit 'individual animal number'. The electronic number on the chip will be identical except the 'UK' will be replaced with '826' (the ISO country code for the UK).
- an EID tag must be yellow
- a non-electronic identification device can be any colour apart from yellow, red or black
Slaughter animals should have one single electronic slaughter batch tag. This has 'UK' followed by the flock number printed on the outside of the tag and the individual animal number contained in the electronic chip. It must be yellow to show that it is an electronic tag.
Keepers have the option to fully EID slaughter animals but will then have to follow the recording and reporting requirements of full EID-identified sheep.
Reserved colours for tags (as stated in the Regulations):
- yellow - used only for electronic tag
- black - used only for ear tags where the sheep has an EID bolus and should be marked with the letter 'B'
- red - used only for replacement tags (including replacement electronic tags)
- Replacing identification
If your sheep loses its identification device, or it becomes impossible to read, you must replace the device within the following timescales (whichever comes soonest):
- no later than 28 days after the tag was removed or discovered to be lost or illegible (either visually or electronically)
- before the sheep is moved from your holding
Whenever you apply replacements you must make a record of this in the replacement section of the holding register.
- Where do I record my animal movements & who do I report them to?
When an animal moves, its movement must be reported (on-movements) or notified (off-movements) to the Animal Reporting and Movements Service (ARAMS) within three days using one of the following methods:
- if you use a farm management package that has been updated, it will automatically report sheep and goat movements on to the ARAMS database
- if you have internet access, you can report moves on the ARAMS website
- if neither of the above are appropriate, you can use a quadruplicate paper ARAMS-1 form in a similar way to the old AML1 form. The new address is: Animal Reporting and Movement Service, Capita Customer Solutions, PO Box 1470, Northampton, NN1 9GB. Do not send completed forms to your local authority
The movement must also be recorded in the holding register.
The only exceptions are as follows:
- when an animal that remains under your keepership moves to a piece of land that is registered under the same CPH number as your 'point of business' and is within a 10 mile radius of it
- where an animal is moved to a veterinary practice
- when an animal is moved to common land that is adjacent to the holding
- when an animal is moved on foot to adjacent land that has a different CPH but is not used for any other livestock. However, this exemption will cease on 1 January 2018 if within a 10 mile radius of the 'point of business' it can be part of the main CPH, either permanently or through a 'temporary land association' (TLA)
- Recording movements in the holding register
Versions of the holding register in Excel and pdf are available on the GOV.UK website.
You must record the individual identification numbers for full EID-identified animals when the animal is first identified, moves to another holding or dies.
Slaughter animals are always recorded as a batch or mixed batch (that is, you only need to record the flock numbers of the animals being moved).
For animals born or identified before 31 December 2009 you do not have to record individual identification numbers in the holding register; however, individual numbers are required for reporting / notifying movements.
The examples below show the different ways of recording sheep movements.
This is where you record the individual identification number of each animal. It applies to full EID-identified animals. For example:
Date Number of animals moved Flock mark / individual ID number CPH / location animals arrived from 01/10/2015 1 UK0123456 00001 01/001/1234 02/10/2015 5 UK0123456 00002 to 00006 01/001/1234
This is where you only record the total number of animals moved. It is used for slaughter animals and for full EID-identified animals where they move through a central point recording centre that is providing you with the individual numbers. For example:
Date Number of animals moved Flock mark CPH / location animals arrived from 10/10/2015 50 UK0123456 01/001/1234
Mixed batch recording
This is where slaughter animals moving in batches have different flock marks. You must record the number of animals that have the same flock mark. For example:
Date Number of animals moved Flock mark CPH / location animals arrived from 06/07/2015
the leading zeroes in the flock marks in the above tables are only necessary for full EID-identified animals.
- Recording movements in the movement document
The ARAMS-1, which needs to be completed each time animals move to a different holding, can be found on the ARAMS website.
Moves can be recorded and reported in the movement document in two ways: individual recording and batch recording.
Full EID-identified animals born or identified since 31 December 2009 should be recorded individually on your movement document (ARAMS-1, in paper form or electronically) unless you are moving animals with full EID through a CPRC (see below).
Slaughter animals should be recorded on a batch basis.
Since 1 January 2015 you need to record individual identification numbers for sheep that were tagged before 31 December 2009 on the movement document. The exception to this is moves to slaughter (direct or through a market), which continue to be batch reported.
- How do I record the individual numbers?
For individual recording, it is up to you to decide whether you read and record an animal's individual identification number yourself as it moves off your holding or use a CPRC to electronically read and record the numbers on your behalf. By using a CPRC you avoid having to individually record animals as they move off the holding.
- What is central point recording?
This is where animals with electronic identification devices have their individual identification numbers read and recorded on behalf of a keeper by an approved CPRC such as a market or abattoir. A list of approved CPRC premises can be found on the GOV.UK website.
Failure to comply with the requirements of the Sheep and Goats (Records, Identification and Movements) (England) Order 2009 is an offence under the Animal Health Act 1981. The maximum penalty is a fine and two years' imprisonment.
- Further reading
Extra information for sheep and goat keepers, including examples and scenarios, can be found on the GOV.UK website.
- Key legislation
Last reviewed / updated: September 2017
This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.
The guide's 'Key legislation' links may only show the original version of the legislation, although some amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Information on amendments to UK legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab; amendments to EU legislation are usually incorporated into the text.
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