Guidance

Get a herd mark for cattle

If you keep cattle, bison or buffalo, you need to get a herd mark before you can buy new or replacement official ear tags.

A herd mark is a unique identifier for a herd of animals. It is issued by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). In England and Wales it is possible for a holding to have more than 1 herd mark (for example if you run your beef and dairy herds separately). In Scotland you can only have one herd mark per holding.

Cattle herd marks have a specific form:

  • herd marks issued before 1 January 2000 were made up of 1 or 2 letters followed by 4 numbers
  • since 1 January 2000 herd marks have been made up of 6 numbers

How to apply

Once you have your County Parish Holding number, contact your local APHA office to notify them that you intend to keep cattle.

APHA will register you as a cattle keeper and send you a registration document containing your herd mark.

How herd marks are used

The herd mark is one of the pieces of information printed on each cattle ear tag. You need a herd mark before you can:

Published 6 May 2014