Keeping deer in England: tagging, movement and record keeping rules

The rules you must follow to make sure deer can be traced to help prevent and contain disease.

Applies to England

When keeping deer, you must follow rules to make sure they can always be traced. This helps to prevent and contain the spread of disease.

These rules apply to anyone who keeps deer on land enclosed by deer-proof fencing. This includes:

  • farmed deer for selling, breeding or meat or skin production
  • deer kept for performance purposes, for example reindeer for seasonal work
  • deer kept as pets

They do not apply to wild deer.

There are also rules you must follow to:

Find out about rules farmers and land managers must follow.

It’s your responsibility to follow the rules to avoid penalties such as movement restrictions on your herd, reduced subsidy payments, fines or prosecution.

Get a county parish holding (CPH) number

You must first apply for a CPH number from the Rural Payments Agency (RPA).

You’ll need your CPH number to:

You must contact RPA to update your details if anything changes after you register. For example, if you change where you plan to keep the deer or stop keeping them.

Get a temporary land association (TLA) or temporary county parish holding number  

You may need to get a temporary land association (TLA) or temporary county parish holding (tCPH) number to link the land or buildings where you’ll keep deer with your CPH number.

You must do this if:  

  • your CPH number is registered to your home address (for example, because you do not own any of the land where you’ll keep deer or you keep them for a hobby)  
  • you use extra land temporarily to keep deer (for example, you rent an extra field or building for less than a year)

Get a herd mark

You must register with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) to get a herd mark.

The herd mark must be on the ear tags or tattoos you use to identify deer when:

  • you move them off your holding
  • they’re tested for TB

You must make sure your holding details are always up to date with APHA. This is so APHA can track the location and movement of animals to prevent and control disease.

Find out when and how to update your details.

Tag or tattoo deer to identify them

Deer should be correctly identified before they arrive on your holding. You do not need to replace the ear tag or tattoo, but you can choose to replace them with ear tags or tattoos containing your herd mark if you wish.

When you must tag deer

You must also make sure deer are correctly tagged or tattooed when they are going to:

  • leave your holding
  • be tested for TB

They must have a single ear tag or tattoo which clearly displays:

  • the letters ‘UK’
  • your 6-character herd mark made up of letters and numbers (alphanumeric)
  • an identification number which is unique to the animal (you choose what this is)

For example, the format is UK XY 4321 (herd mark) 44 (identification number).

Where to buy ear tags and tattoo equipment

You can choose where to buy deer ear tags and tattoo equipment. You could try an RPA-approved supplier of sheep and goat ear tags.

When ordering, you’ll need the CPH number and herd mark for where you keep the animal.

Report deer movements

You must report movements of deer on and off your holding to LIS.

You must also follow the conditions of the deer movement general licence.

You do not have to follow the standstill rule when moving deer. Find out when to follow the standstill rule when moving cattle, sheep, goats and pigs.

Record the movement of deer

You must keep a record of deer moves off and on to your holding in a holding register. Make a record within 36 hours of each move. Include the:

  • date you moved the deer
  • deer’s unique dentification number
  • CPH number of the premises the deer were moved from or to
  • name and address of the keeper (usually you)

Make a single record if you’re moving a number of deer and they’re moving from and to the same place. But make sure to record all the animals’ unique identification numbers.

You must keep your records for at least 3 years. You may have to show them to a field officer from APHA or an inspector from your local council.

When you do not have to report and record deer movements 

You do not have to report and record deer movements within 10 miles of the main area you keep them if: 

  • the land or buildings are registered to your CPH number – you can contact RPA to add them if you’ll use them permanently (for more than a year) 
  • the deer will not mix with someone else’s livestock 

Rural Payments Agency 
Telephone (Defra rural services helpline): 03000 200 301 
Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm 
Find out about call charges

If you’re using extra land or buildings temporarily within 10 miles of the main area you keep deer, you can get a temporary land association. This links the land or buildings with your CPH number, meaning you do not have to report and record movements. 

You can only do this if:  

  • you’ll use the land or buildings for less than a year 
  • the deer will not mix with someone else’s livestock
Published 8 June 2015
Last updated 4 December 2023 + show all updates
  1. Added information on when you do not need to report and record deer movements. Added information on when you need to get a temporary county parish holding number or temporary land association.

  2. Updated contact details for the Livestock Information Service and the Animal and Plant Health Agency. Moved how to report deer movements to:

  3. Due to the launch of a new movement reporting system, updated the guidance and links from the Animal Reporting and Movement Service (ARAMS) to the Livestock Information Service (LIS).

  4. First published.