Deer keepers: tagging deer and reporting their movements

Find out about your responsibilities as a deer keeper, when and how to identify your animals, and how to report deer movements.

You must meet certain requirements if you keep any deer on land enclosed by deer-proof fencing, including:

  • farmed deer for sale or breeding, or for meat or skin production
  • deer kept for performance purposes - eg reindeer for seasonal work
  • deer kept as a pet

There are also rules you must follow to prevent and manage tuberculosis (TB).

Register your land

If you plan to move deer on to or off your land at some point, you’ll need to register the land you use to keep deer. You’ll need to give your County Parish Holding (CPH) number when you report the movement of your deer.

If you rent someone else’s land for grazing you may still need to register it as land where animals are kept - check with RPA.

Get a herd mark

Deer should have a herd mark and be individually identified when they come to your holding. You may want to give them your own deer herd mark instead but you don’t have to.

You will need your own herd mark for any deer born on your land.

Contact the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) to get a herd mark for your holding.

They’ll give you a unique herd mark - usually 1 or 2 letters followed by 4 digits, eg AB 1234 or XY 9876.

Give deer unique ID

If deer are born on your land they’ll need unique ID, in addition to their herd mark, if either:

  • they’re going to be tested for TB
  • they’re going to leave your land

If a deer you’ve bought loses its tag you’ll also need to re-identify it before it’s tested for TB or leaves your land.

Ear tags

Give each deer a single ear tag that includes:

  • the letters ‘UK’
  • your APHA herd mark
  • lastly, the animal’s new unique number

For example, UK AB 1234 00001 could be one animal’s unique ID.

There isn’t an approved list of suppliers for deer ear tags. It’s up to you to buy suitable tags, but you might want to use a Defra-approved supplier of ear tags for sheep and goats.

You can also use tattooing to ID your deer as long as the mark and numbers are clear.

Report movement of deer

You must meet certain requirements if you move deer from your land, including reporting these movements. You must also make a report within 72 hours of deer arriving on your land.

Sign up for the Animal Reporting and Movement Service (ARAMS) to find out what you need to do. You’ll get the option to report online or download a form to fill in.

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

Record the sale of deer

You need to keep details if you sell deer. Make a record within 36 hours of each sale and include:

  • the date you sold the deer
  • ear tag numbers
  • details of the premises the deer were moved from and the name and address of the seller (usually you)
  • details of the premises the deer were moved to and the name and address of the buyer
  • the number of the pen (if any) in which the deer were kept if sold at a market

You can make a single record for the sale of a group of deer (including their individual numbers) if their origin is the same and they’re going to the same land.

You should keep your records for at least 3 years. You may have to show them to an inspector, eg from APHA or from your local authority.

Help and information

Contact Defra if you need more help or information on deer management.

Defra Helpline

Seacole Building
2 Marsham Street


The quickest way to get a response is to call our Helpline which is open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5:00pm (find out about call charges at Alternatively you can email us, or write to us at the postal address given above. We aim to reply to emails or letters within fifteen working days.

If you deliberately ignore the rules you could be prosecuted by your local authority.

Published 8 June 2015