Cattle identification inspection

Information for farmers about inspections the Rural Payments Agency carries out on cattle, cattle passports and farm records.

Who gets inspected

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) chooses which holdings it checks based on a risk assessment of:

  • the number of animals
  • public and animal health considerations
  • results of previous inspections
  • communication of data to competent authority
  • time since last inspection

If there’s a high level of non-compliance one year then there’ll be extra inspections the next year.

If you’ve passed 2 consecutive inspections you won’t be included in the risk-based selection.

You usually won’t get told you’re being inspected, but in some cases you might get up to 48 hours’ notice.

Find out more about cattle farm inspections.

What gets inspected

Your cattle, cattle passports and farm records are inspected and ear tags of all cattle are read. Some cattle will be selected for a ‘double tag’ ear tag check.

Time and length

Most inspections are in late autumn or winter when animals are already indoors.

Inspections based on requests or reports can happen at any time of year.

Inspections take on average 5 hours but can take several days for large holdings.

What happens next

The inspector will verbally explain all findings to you.

If less than 20% of the animals present have errors at the end of the inspection, each animal will be placed under an ‘Individual Movement Restriction’.

If 20% or more animals present have errors at the end of the inspection or you don’t have any farm records, you’ll get a ‘Whole herd movement restriction’ and the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) is notified. You must tell the BCMS when you have corrected any breaches.

The inspector completes a Control Report Form to:

  • decide if a Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) penalty will be applied
  • report any other cross-compliance issues that may be followed up as a targeted or ad hoc inspection

If there are any differences, BCMS update the Cattle Tracing System (CTS).

Any welfare issues are referred to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). If you have broken the law, your local authority will be informed so that they can investigate and potentially prosecute you.

Published 12 January 2016