Quick Help Guide to Tagging

A quick help guide to animal tagging - rules and advice about cattle tags, sheep tags, goat tags and pig tags.
Further information is available from from DEFRA.


  • All cattle must be double tagged with a primary and secondary tag. The primary tag has to be distance readable and therefore a minimum size is required.
  • All dairy animals must be tagged within 36 hours and all beef animals within 20 days.

Sheep & Goats

You must identify your sheep and goats:

  • Within 6 months of birth if they’re housed overnight.
  • Within 9 months of birth if they’re not housed overnight.
  • Before you move them off their holding of birth if this is sooner.

All sheep born on or after the 1st January 2015 should be Electronically tagged.

  • All lambs intended for slaughter before 12 months of age MUST be fitted with one yellow EID tag. This tag will have the farm’s flock mark on it only.  These lambs can be moved to a market or abattoir as a “batch” movement and there is no requirement to record an individual number.
  • All lambs which are going to be retained as breeding sheep or kept until they are over 12 months of age, MUST be fitted with two tags one of which MUST be a yellow EID tag (breeding pairs). These tags will have the farm’s flock mark and an individual number printed on them. When these sheep are moved off the holding of birth, they have to be recorded as an individual movement, NOT a batch movement.
  • All sheep born after 1st January 2010 should have a pair of tags already fitted one of which will be a yellow EID tag. If these sheep have lost both tags, it is advisable to fit a pair of RED tags one of which must be an EID tag. This should be recorded as “tags lost” in the flock book.
  • All sheep tagged prior to 1st January 2010 (historic flock) will need to be fitted with a new pair of ear tags one of which should be an EID.


  • Pigs can either be tagged or slap marked. The tags must be metal for animals going to slaughter, however plastic tags are suitable for breeding animals.