Traceability and Livestock Identification

Traceability is a crucial factor in preventing the spread of livestock diseases and there are strict movement regulations to adhere to to ensure compliance with regulations.

It is a legal requirement in the UK and the EU to comply with the identification of farmed animals, including Equines but not poultry. Traceability is reliant on efficient livestock identification and accurate recording of farm animals including: sheep, cattle, goats and pigs.

There are requirements for all livestock to protect our animals and our food chain, below are specifics on all livestock tracking and movement recording requirements.


Why is traceability crucial?

The cattle industry has been hit with some devastating diseases over the last few decades that have seen whole farms wiped out, such as Foot and Mouth disease, BSE and TB. There was also the ‘Horsegate’ scandal which left consumers demanding more insight into where their food has come from.

Traceability is also core in speciality meats such as Aberdeen Angus that obtains a premium price, therefore encouraging scandal from crossbred Aberdeen Angus being sold as pure bred.


Traceability – Cattle

Cattle Identification and Traceability is vital in the effective prevention of disease and to protect the health of the public. Having efficient moving records throughout cattle’s life, means that in the event of a disease outbreak complete movement recording from birth to death, can help protect further outbreaks and minimise the spread of disease.

In order to be traceable, all cattle need to have a passport which corresponds to it’s livestock identification or cattle id tag in accordance with EU legislation.


Traceability –  Sheep & Goats

Sheep and Goat Identification is vital for disease control and complete traceability of movement, and identification by sheep id is crucial to comply with EU regulations to prevent the spread of disease.

Traceability requirements?

There are five key requirements to the traceability legislation, you must:

  • register as a keeper on every holding that you use;
  • identify each of your animals with animal id;
  • accurate up to date record keeping;
  • complete movement documents for all livestock movements; and
  • notify movements of livestock on to your holding to the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS).

Sheep and Goat Registration

Sheep and Goat Tagging


Traceability – Pigs

Pigs can also spread dangerous diseases like Foot and Mouth so to control outbreak and spread of disease so Defra and Animal Health need full movement records to control and eliminate outbreaks.

Before moving pigs on to your land you need a County Parish Number (CPH) from the Rural Payments Agency.

Pigs must have a movement document for all movements from birth to death.


Traceability – Horses

Legislation requires all horse, ponies and donkeys to have a passport for identification.

The passport is to help combat horses that have been given certain medicines from ending up in the food chain for human consumption.

It also acts as identification for stolen horses, ponies or donkeys.

In 2009 microchipping became compulsory to ensure accurate identification between the passport and the microchip. The microchip will go along way in assisting identification of stolen animals and welfare cases.

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