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Identification of Sheep

Sheep must be tagged in accordance with the rules set down under the National Sheep Identification System and only tags that have been approved for use under the NSIS may be used. 

The identification requirements for sheep as outlined here applies to sheep born after 1 January 2010.  The requirements for sheep born prior to 1 Jan 2010 continue to be the NSIS rules that were in force at that time.  In general the identification requirements for sheep born after 1 January 2010 are a follows:

  • All sheep must be tagged with at least one tag by 9 months of age or on leaving the holding of birth, which ever comes first.  Animals to be kept definitively for breeding must be double tagged by 9 months of age with a conventional mart tag in the left ear, bearing a 12 digit number, and either a ruminal bolus or an electronic tag in the right ear, bearing the identical 12 digit tag number on the conventional mart tag.  In general both tags on a sheep fitted with an electronic tag will be yellow.  The tag on a sheep fitted with a ruminal bolus will be light blue. 
  • In the case of sheep intended for slaughter before 12 months of age they may be tagged in just the left ear with a conventional slaughter tag.
  • In the case of sheep going for sale via a mart before 12 months old they may be tagged in just the left ear with a conventional tag which must be approved as a mart tag.   (Upgrading to EID - Animals less than 12 months of age bought at marts and tagged with one conventional mart tag can be upgraded to double tagging with a specific EID tag if they are to be retained for breeding.  This must be done by the time the animal is 12 months of age.)
  • Live Trade - Sheep born after 1 January 2010 and engaged in intra-community trade or third country exports must be double tagged with a conventional tag in the left ear, bearing a 12 digit number, and either a ruminal bolus or an electronic tag in the right ear, bearing an identical 12 digit tag number to the conventional tag.  Sheep purchased for export and not identified as above can be upgraded to EID status as follows:
    • a) a bespoke EID tag bearing the same number as the conventional mart tag already on the animal can be ordered by the exporter
    • b) The sheep can be re-tagged with a new EID set and the new tag number correlated to the old number in the flock register of the exporter

Any animal being exported must prior to presentation for certification at the export assembly centre have been tagged in accordance with the rules of the NSIS.  In general both tags on a sheep fitted with an electronic tag will be yellow.  The tag/s on a sheep fitted with a ruminal bolus will be light blue. 

Click list of Tag Suppliers who have tags approved for use under the NSIS (NSIS & NGIS Tag List): Approved Tag Suppliers for the National Sheep and Goat Identification Systems (NSIS and NGIS) (doc 149Kb)