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Livestock ID and Traceability | Cattle | Tagging

All cattle born after 1 July 2000 Cattle Ear Tag

  • Must be identified with an all numeric eartag in each ear
  • Numeric tags were introduced on 1 January 2000 but made compulsory on 1 July 2000

All Cattle born after 1 January 1998

  • Must have an approved eartag in each ear (double tagging)
  • Each eartag must have the same unique number
  • Animals will be identified by this unique number throughout their lifetime

All cattle born or imported into Great Britain before 1 January 1998

  • May continue to be identified by a single tag bearing the same number
  • May be identified by a single tag bearing a new number (in this case records must be amended and all documentation returned to BCMS for amendment)
  • May be identified by a new set of double tags (in this case records must be amended and all documentation returned to BCMS for amendment, and subsequent replacements must bear the same number.

When to Tag

Calves must be tagged within the following deadlines.

Beef Cattle: An approved eartag should be fitted in each ear within 20 days of birth or before it moves of the holding where it was born if that is before it is 20 days old.

Dairy Cattle: Must have at least one eartag fitted within 36 hours of birth. Up to 20 days from birth are allowed in which to fit the second tag. Both tags must be fitted before it leaves its holding of birth if that is before it is 20 days old.

Bison: The only exception to these timescales is Bison. You can tag them within 9 months of birth, but they must be tagged before leaving the holding of birth or when separated from their mother, whichever is sooner.

You do not need to tag animals that have died before these deadlines.

Double Tagging Requirements

The tags used for double tagging are known as the Primary and Secondary tags.

  • The Primary Tag which may be inserted in either ear, must be made of yellow plastic and be at least 45mm in height and 55mm wide. The characters must be a minimum of 5mm high. It must bear the GB symbol of a crown, the letters UK and the unique identification number.
  • The Secondary tag must be in a different ear from the primary tag. It can be made from a range of approved materials and types, including metal, button and other plastic types. It may also contain management information.

If an animal loses a tag or if it becomes illegible it must be replaced no later than 28 days after you notice the loss. Lost or illegible tags on animals born or imported after 1 January 1998 can only be replaced with a tag showing the same number, as the animal must retain its unique number for life.

Tagging Best Practice

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Tagging Best Practice

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Ordering Eartags

Keepers of cattle must order eartags from one of the Defra approved eartag manufacturers.

Defra approves eartags on behalf of the UK. The manufacturer will notify the Governments Eartag Allocation System (ETAS) of the order and will then be allocated sequential numbers for each tag.

The sequential numbers are based on the keepers individual herd mark which is then cross referenced to the unique farm code (CPH)

Keepers should limit their orders for eartags to a maximim of one years' supply.