Find out how to identify cattle (including bison and buffalo), and how to order the tags you need.
You’ll need a stock of official ear tags to use when calves are born on your holding. If a tag is lost or the number can no longer be read you’ll need to get a replacement.
You can only buy official ear tags from suppliers registered with the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS).
Order a new batch of tags
When you request a batch of official tags, the supplier will need to know your herd mark and County Parish Holding (CPH) number. They’ll use this to get the run of individual unique animal numbers for your tags from BCMS’s Ear Tag Allocation System database. The supplier will send the printed tags to you.
You should not apply for more ear tags than you’ll use in one year. You should store unused ear tags securely.
Get replacements for lost tags
If you need to replace an illegible or lost tag, contact any supplier of approved tags to order a replacement.
Always use the correct applicator for the type of tag you are using and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Identifying cattle to export or move to the EU or Northern Ireland (NI)
You must use the GB country code to identify cattle you want to:
- export to the EU
- move to NI
- transit through the EU or NI
You must record all tags you use in your holding register before sending your animals for export.
You can order the tags you need from your usual ear tag supplier.
Tags you should use
You should add a third tag with the GB country code to cattle who are already double tagged.
All tags must include the animal’s individual ID number.
For unidentified calves you’re tagging for the first time, you can choose to either:
- use double UK tags with the GB suffix (UK-GB)
- add a third tag with the GB country code - you must add this if your UK double tags do not state GB
You should use a plastic flag or button tag, of any colour, for your third tag.
If you export cattle for slaughter, they must be freeze-branded on the hind quarters with an L mark.
Moving cattle to GB from NI
You can use UK tags to move cattle from NI to GB.
Read more information about moving goods under the NI Protocol.
Contact DAERA for information about moving goods from NI to the EU.
You do not need to send passports with your cattle when you export them to the EU.
You must return any existing passports to the BCMS within 7 days of exporting your animals.
Identify cattle in the UK
You should use UK tags to:
- record births
- record and report animal movements in the UK
Give feedback about ear tags
BCMS monitors, and may act on, feedback from cattle keepers about official ear tags. You canor get one from your supplier.