Abattoirs: report and record sheep and goat arrivals

Find out about your reporting and recording requirements when sheep or goats arrive at your abattoir.

When sheep and goats arrive at your abattoir, you must:

  • check they’re properly identified
  • record the arrivals in your holding register
  • report the arrivals to the Animal Reporting and Movement Service (ARAMS), including tag numbers for electronically identified animals)

By late 2015 all English sheep and some goats will have electronic identifiers (EIDs), which can be scanned electronically to capture identification numbers.

To make reporting easier you can choose to only handle animals with EIDs. Tell your customers if you decide to do this.

Identifying animals

Visually check a sample of between 2% and 5% of each incoming batch of animals, to make sure they’re correctly identified. The smaller the batch the more animals you should check.

Find out how different sheep and goats are identified, including which animals have EIDs and the colours reserved for different types of identifier.

You must not allow unidentified animals onto your premises. If an animal has lost its identification on the way to you, you can’t slaughter it until you know where it came from.

Request food-chain information

It’s your responsibility to make sure you know the origin of animals before you slaughter them for human consumption. You must make sure any premises sending you animals intended for human consumption provides food-chain information.

Keepers can provide this either as:

  • part of the ARAMS-1 movement form in the ARAMS system
  • a separate document

You can read more about requirements for abattoirs regarding food-chain information.

Check for adult sheep incorrectly identified as lambs

Lambs intended for slaughter may be identified with single ear tags. Lambs must be double-tagged (as adults) once they reach 12 months of age.

Because it’s difficult for keepers to estimate the age of lambs precisely, lambs can be sent for slaughter with single tags up to June 30 in the year after their lambing season.

For example, lambs born in the December 2014 to May 2015 lambing season can be presented for slaughter with a single tag up to 30 June 2016. After that they must be double-tagged as adult sheep.

If you’re sent a single tagged lamb for slaughter, but you think it’s older than 18 months, you must keep a record of the animal. You must make these records available to a local authority on request.

Keep a holding register

You must keep a record of every movement of sheep or goats on to your premises in a holding register.

You must keep the register for 3 years after the last animal in it has left the holding (ie for 3 years after you slaughter your last animal).

What you need to record in your holding register

You only need to complete the ‘on-movements’ section of the register, which covers the movement of animals to your abattoir.

For every movement of sheep or goats to your premises you must record the:

  • species (ie sheep or goats)
  • date of arrival
  • premises the animals came from
  • haulier that moved the animals
  • total number of animals arriving

For adult animals tagged since 2010 with 2 identifiers, you must also record the individual identity number of each animal.

For lambs or kids (baby goats) identified as intended for slaughter (by a single ear tag), you only need to record the number of animals from each flock or herd mark.

How to keep your holding register

You can keep your holding register in any format (eg electronically or on paper) as long as you record all the required information and can make it available to an inspector on request.

The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published a model paper holding register.

You can request hard copies from the Defra helpline by quoting PB13281.

Telephone: 08459 335 577

An electronic register is available for free on the ARAMS website or you can use your own software.

If you keep an electronic register on ARAMS, you’ll be able to download movement reports into it. Movement reports will include identification numbers (so you won’t have to scan them yourself) if the keeper sending you the animals both:

  • is on ARAMs
  • scanned EID numbers into their outbound movement notification

Markets and collection centres are required to be on ARAMS and scan EID numbers, so reports of movements from those premises will always include identification numbers.

Report arrivals to the Animal Reporting and Movement Service

You must electronically report the arrival of any sheep or goats at your abattoir on the ARAMS website within 72 hours.

If the sender has already entered details on ARAMS, you’ll only need to confirm details of the move.

If the sender didn’t enter details of the move you’ll need to enter all of the required information, including the holding the animals were sent from and the haulier that transported the animals. You can find this information on the ARAMS-1 movement document sent with the animals.

To submit reports to ARAMS you can:

  • set up an interface between your IT system and ARAMS (your software provider should be able to do this for you)
  • use the abattoir portal on the ARAMS website to enter records manually or confirm electronically notified moves

You can find out how to register on ARAMS and more detailed instructions about how to report movements to abattoirs on the ARAMS website.

If you’re unable to submit a report within 72 hours (for example if you have a power failure) contact the Trading Standards Department at your local authority. You may be given a temporary exemption from some recording and reporting requirements.

When you need to report individual identification numbers

If you receive lambs or kids identified as intended for slaughter that don’t have EIDs, you need to report the number of animals from each flock or herd mark. For every other sheep or goat that arrives at your premises, you need to report the animal’s individual identification number.

If the animals have been sent from a farm, the individual identification numbers might not be on ARAMS. In such cases you’ll have to gather individual identification numbers yourself.

How to gather EID numbers

You can use EID reading equipment, such as a portable handheld scanner or stationary race reader, to capture individual identification numbers from EID tags.

A handheld or portable reader should be able to read:

  • an EID ear tag from 12 centimetres (cm)
  • a ruminal bolus EID from 20cm

A stationary race reader should be able to read all types of identifiers from 50cm.

It’s recommended that you use equipment that complies with International Standards Organisation (ISO) standards 11784 and 11785 on radio frequency identification of animals.

Individual identification numbers are also displayed on the ear tags of adult animals, so you can gather the numbers visually if you’re only processing a small number of animals.

Individual identification numbers aren’t displayed on the ear tags of lambs or kids identified as intended for slaughter. If the ear tag is an EID, the number will be encoded in the EID chip and you’ll have to electronically scan it. If the tag isn’t an EID, you don’t have to record an individual identification number.

Get help or further information

Read the registration and user guides on the ARAMS website or contact ARAMS directly if you need help reporting movements electronically:

Telephone: 0844 573 0137

Provide a Central Point Recording Centre service for sheep keepers

You can offer to send sheep farmers an electronic record of any animals with EIDs sent from their premises to your abattoir. They can use this to update the off-movements section of their own holding register.

This is called a Central Point Recording Centre (CPRC) service. Premises such as markets often provide the service so farmers don’t have to scan EIDs.

Farmers will tick a CPRC box on the outgoing movement document if they want you to scan the EIDs of animals in the batch. It’s up to you whether you offer a CPRC service and farmers can’t assume that you do.

If you want to offer this service complete and return the CPRC application form to your local Animal and Plant Health Agency office.

Dispose of EIDs

EID tags mustn’t be re-used.

Destroy them or dispose of them securely (eg you can send them to an ABP processing facility with the heads of animals).

Published 1 June 2014