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Guidance on keeping cattle, bison and buffalo in Great Britain

Anyone with responsibility for cattle or other bovine animals must follow the rules and procedures that apply to all cattle keepers.

A cattle keeper is a person who is responsible for cattle, bison or buffalo on a permanent or temporary basis. In official guidance, the term ‘cattle’ always covers all 3 species.

Some examples of cattle keepers are:

  • farmers
  • people who run livestock markets and calf assembly centres
  • transporters
  • dealers who keep animals
  • people who run slaughterhouses and lairages

There are detailed laws setting out the tasks that cattle keepers must carry out, both before they take responsibility for animals and once animals are in their care.

What to do before you can keep cattle

To keep cattle, you must:

What you must do when you keep cattle

Once you are responsible for animals, you must follow the correct procedures for:

  • identifying animals and keeping records
  • reporting certain events (births, movements, deaths, and lost and stolen animals) to BCMS

Relevant regulations

In England, the regulations on cattle identification are the Cattle Identification Regulations 2007, as emended by the Animal Health By-products (Enforcement) England Regulation (SI 2013/295) and the Cattle Identification (amendment) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/295).

There are separate regulations for Scotland and Wales.

Legislation

The requirements on cattle identification, registration and tracing are governed by several pieces of EU legislation.

Regulation made by the European Parliament and Council

Regulation (EC) No 1760/00 establishing a system for the identification and registration of bovine animals and regarding the labelling of beef and beef products and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 820/97.

Regulation made by the European Commission giving detailed rules

Regulation (EC) No 911/2004 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 1760/00 as regards eartags, holding registers and passports in the framework of the system for the identification and registration of bovine animals.

Regulation (EC) No 1082/2003 as amended by Regulation (EC) 1034/2010 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 1760/00 as regards the minimum level of controls to be carried out in the framework of the system for the identification and registration of bovine animals. This Regulation specifies the need for the competent authority to carry out on the spot inspections of GB cattle holdings. This has been amended by Regulation (EC) No 1034/2010 which has set the level at 3% of holdings to be inspected.

Regulation (EC) No 494/98 as amended by Regulation (EC) No1053/2010 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Regulation 9EC) No 1760/00 as regards the application of minimum administrative sanctions in the framework of the system for the identification and registration of bovine animals. This Regulation sets down the sanctions to be applied to holdings not complying with the requirements of Regulation (EC) No 1760/00, which includes restrictions on movements of cattle from the holding.

Commission Regulation (EC) No 644/2005 laying down rules for a special identification system for bovine animals recognised by the competent authority as being kept for cultural and historical purposes on premises approved for that purpose by the competent authority.

Commission Regulation (EC) No 509/1999 concerning an extension of the maximum period laid down for the application of ear-tags to bison.

Keeping cattle and representing keepers

Tagging, passports, record keeping and inspections

Reporting and recording events in your herd

Published 6 May 2014
Last updated 9 April 2015 + show all updates
  1. Added paragraph on legislation
  2. First published.