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Sheep tagging: electronic identification (EID)

Electronic identification (EID) for sheep was introduced on 31 December 2009, together with individual recording for sheep and goats.

The reason for sheep EID

Individual recording of sheep (and goats) is an EU requirement to addresses EU-wide inadequacies with identification and tracing which were identified during the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak. EID is intended to make recording quicker and more accurate throughout the food chain.

Latest news

  • See information on individual reporting requirements for sheep and goats from 1 January 2011 below.
  • On 19 November 2010, UK agriculture ministers were encouraged by EU Commissioner Dalli’s commitment to pragmatism in implementing EU rules on Electronic Identification of Sheep (EID) in the UK after their meeting. A news release has been published.
  • Agriculture and Food Minister Jim Paice has impressed on EU Commissioner Dalli the need to review regulatory burdens such as those arising from EID. He has accepted an invitation to visit the UK to see for himself the practical challenges the UK faces.
  • On 9 June 2010 Jim Paice MP announced the Task Force on Farming Regulation which amongst other things will consider livestock ID and movement rules to see if they can be simplified without compromising disease control. It will report in early 2011.

Individual reporting requirements for sheep and goats from 1 January 2011

For animals individually identified after 31 December 2009 keepers must now include their individual ID numbers on the AML1 movement document. 

Important information

  • Sheep intended to be kept past 12 months of age need to be double tagged including one EID tag.
  • Consider carefully which tags to use for slaughter lambs – markets may require them to have a single EID batch tag. Producers should therefore check with their customers before deciding how to tag their lambs. Keepers do not have to buy electronic readers. They can record their sheep manually if they wish and  it suits their business.
  • Keepers can choose to use ‘Central Point Recording Centres’ (CPRCs) to read individual animal numbers on their behalf.  CPRCs can read the tags and send them back a list of the numbers.
  • Keepers should order  tags in good time before they intend to move sheep or goats. The list of manufacturers of approved UK tags and their products is published on the Rural Payment Agency (RPA) website.

What keepers have to do

The following is a summary of what keepers must do when tagging and moving their sheep and goats. A link is provided below to the detailed guidance sent to all to registered sheep and goat keepers in December 2009.

  Sheep Goats
Identification Tag within 9 months of birth (6 months if kept housed overnight),  or before they leave the holding of birth if sooner.
Breeding animals

  • Double tag – incl. one EID
  • Double tag (EID optional)

  • One batch tag – (EID optional)

  • One batch tag (EID optional)
Holding register Keep a separate register for each holding (each CPH)
  • Record movements of animals born from 2010 – individually – unless identified with a slaughter tag
  • Double tagged animals born before 31 December 2009 continue to be batch recorded in the holding register
Record details of replacement tags, and cross reference if appropriate.
Movement documents Complete one each time animals move to a different holding (CPH)
From I January 2011 Include individual tag numbers for animals born from 2010 – unless they have a slaughter tag
From 31 December 2011 Include individual tag numbers for animals born before 2010 – unless moving direct to  slaughter
Movements within a farm business (no change of keepership) To land with 5 miles of main holding and with same CPH  - No need to record (in the register) or report (on a movement document).
To any land with a different CPH - Record on a batch basis for all sheep – if – the keepership or ownership is unchangedotherwise they must meet the reporting requirements from the above dates if individually tagged.


The Sheep and Goats (Records, Identification and Movement) (England) Order 2009 - This Order makes provision for the administration and enforcement in England of Council Regulation (EC) No. 21/2004 on sheep and goat identification and registration. It revokes and replaces the Sheep and Goats (Records, Identification and Movement) (England) Order 2007.

Key publications and documents    

Ordering tags

Advice has been sent to keepers on ordering new tags. A list of approved UK tags (RPA website) is available.

Central Point Recording Centres

Information on what markets/abattoirs etc. need to do to provide a reading service for keepers sending them sheep is published on the Animal Health website.

EU Member States are required to publish information on the format of official tags, movement documents etc.

Further information on sheep and goat identification and registration is available on the Business Link website.

Page last modified: 14 January 2011