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ID Registration - Simpler and Easier.

Recent changes in the double tagging legislation for sheep and goats have received a lot of publicity. However, the good news is that the updated rules are simpler and easier. Nonetheless it is still worth highlighting what is required and how farmers can ensure they are compliant with the law.

To help you understand the new rules we have created a few common scenarios to show how the regulations will apply in practice.



Farmer John has a flock of 300 breeding ewes. Lambing has commenced and the first six lambs have just been born. All being well the first five of these lambs (lambs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) are scheduled for slaughter. Lamb 6 will be retained for breeding.

Farmer John gives each of the slaughter lambs a single UK holding of birth tag. The lamb that he intends to retain is double-tagged, i.e. two identical UK tags are applied, one in each ear. He could wait for up to nine months to do this, or before they leave the birth holding whichever is the sooner. However, for simplicity he does it all at the same time, shortly after birth. The holding of birth tag has the flock number and individual animal number on it. This tag should only be applied once, at the birth holding.

As time goes on Farmer John decides that one of the lambs, Lamb 1, that he had originally intended for slaughter, will be kept as part of his breeding flock. He needs to double tag Lamb 1 as soon as possible. The farmer has two options here: a) the easiest option for him and the animal is to apply an identical tag or b) he may apply two new identically numbered UK tags but with a different number to the original tag and cross-reference the numbers in his holding register.

Another of the five, Lamb 2, loses its tag. The rules relating to lost tags can be quite complicated so Farmer John consults the tables in the Guidance booklet he received back in January, and then double checks he has done it correctly by phoning the Cross Compliance helpline on 0845 345 1302. In this particular case he replaces the lost UK tag with another UK tag from his stock and records the details of the new replacement tag in the holding register.

Lambs 3, 4 and 5 are sent to auction. Lamb 3 loses its tag at the market (after sale) so the new owner, Farmer Bill, replaces it with an R tag. This will indicate the flock mark, although not of the holding of birth. This R tag means Lamb 3 cannot be exported. If Farmer Bill did want to export Lamb 3 he could contact Farmer John and ask for a UK tag to be sent, and then put this tag in place instead.

Lamb 5 is sold for export and needs to be double tagged. The exporter has two options a) apply an identical UK tag or b) apply two of his own UK tags and cross reference the new number with the number on the existing tag in his holding register. If he opts for the latter then he should check first that this is acceptable to the importing authorities.


Holding Register and Movement Documents

As with tagging, record keeping has also been simplified.

There is no need to record flock marks or individual numbers (unless you are importing from outside the EU or exporting). There is also no requirement to record movements between parcels of land within your holding. Finally, you may retain a copy of your movement document instead of recording "off" movements in your holding register. If you do this please remember to retain and file these movement records in date order with your holding register.

So, going back to our example of Farmer John with his six new sheep.

Lamb 1, that was originally intended for slaughter and now is part of the breeding flock, is kept at the home farm and just moved around the holding. Farmer John doesn't need to keep any movement records for this sheep as the holding is under sole occupancy and is all within a 5 mile radius of the main site. If the holding had outlying land more than 5 miles away to which animals were being moved then the movements would have to be recorded and reported. Separate holding registers would also be needed if the animals were kept in a variety of different holdings as each separate holding requires its own register. The only exception to this is common land.

Lamb 2, who lost its tag and now has a replacement tag, is moved from the main farm holding onto rented land 7 miles away. Farmer John completes a movement document and records this movement in his holding register. The receiving keeper, Farmer Alan, who will be looking after the animals for Farmer John, fills in Section D of the movement document. He keeps a copy of the document for his own records and also sends a copy of the movement records to the Local Authority within 3 days.

For Lambs 3, 4 and 5, who were sent to mart, Farmer John completes a movement document to show that they have been sent off the farm. However, Lamb 4 doesn't sell so is returned to the holding. Farmer John completes another movement document and makes a record in his holding register to show that the lamb is back on the farm. He also, as usual, sends a copy of the movement document to the Local Authority office.

Lamb 6, which has been retained on the land until now, moves from the main farm onto common land. Farmer John has not applied for this holding to be linked to common land on the central database so he records the movement in his holding register and sends a copy of the movement document to the Local Authority.


Any questions?

If you have any queries about what is required or just want to ensure that you are complying fully with the regulations, contact the Cross Compliance helpline on 0845 35 1302 or have another read of the 'Guidance for keepers in England: Rules for identifying sheep and goats'....

And that is just for sheep and goats, wait till they get onto us poor humans...

How much easier it was in biblical times!:

St. Matthew 25:31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory,..
32 and before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.


Tsk tsk. Should be Farmer Jane and Farmer Abdul, surely?

Any questions?

why not just double tag every animal and call that good?

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