Guidance

Guidance for manufacturers and suppliers of ear tags for cattle, sheep and goats

To sell official ear tags for cattle, or for sheep and goats, manufacturers/suppliers must be registered and their tags must be approved. Manufacturers/suppliers must also apply for approval of modifications to already approved ear tags.

All bovine animals (cattle, bison and buffalo, all referred to as ‘cattle’ here), sheep and goats in the UK must be fitted with officially approved ear tags, bought from a registered manufacturer/supplier.

Register as an ear tag manufacturer/supplier

To supply official ear tags for cattle, or for sheep and goats, you must get an ear tag supplier’s number from the Ear Tag Allocation System (ETAS) support team at BCMS.

You should:

Send your application form and signed code(s) of practice together to:

ETAS Support Team Leader
BCMS
Curwen Road
WORKINGTON
CA14 2DD

Or email them to bcmsETASSection@rpa.gov.uk

We need an original signature on the Code(s) of Practice undertaking form(s).

Apply to have new or modified ear tags approved

Required reading

Before sending in a new or modified tag for approval you must first read the following:

And for EID tags:

Apply for approval

To request approval please download and complete the application form for a new or modified ear tag (PDF, 293KB, 3 pages) , one form for each new or modified tag.

Send:

  • the application form for each new or modified tag
  • a minimum of 6 samples of each tag, printed with the Crown logo and a number in the correct format (such as “UK 654321 123456”)
  • an ear tag applicator for fitting the tags
  • instructions for fitting the tags, including images showing how the tag will be placed in the animal’s ear
  • technical drawings (including measurements)
  • your proposed quality control procedures
  • your proposed marketing literature including the name and type of tag
  • certificate(s) showing each tag conforms to EID technical standards (EID tags only)
  • an original version of the currently approved tag (for modified tags only)

to:

ETAS Support Team Leader
BCMS
Curwen Road
WORKINGTON
CA14 2DD

You can also email the application form(s) and other documents to bcmsETASSection@rpa.gov.uk.

What happens next

The ETAS Support Team will carry out an initial tabletop test.

They will then send the tags and paperwork to an Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) vet for them to carry out a welfare tabletop test.

If the APHA vet is content they will advise ETAS.

The ETAS Support Team will then confirm to you that you can arrange for live Welfare Trials.

You must not submit your sample tags for welfare or laboratory testing until told to by the ETAS Support Team.

Welfare assessment

When the ETAS Support Team advise you that you can move to live welfare trials, at your own cost, you must arrange for a welfare assessment at 2 farms under the supervision of a vet.

The welfare assessment must fulfil the following requirements:

Requirement Cattle Sheep and goats
Period of assessment 21 days 3 months
Number of animals per batch of tags on each farm at least 25 calves at least 50 sheep/goats
Location calves at one farm enclosed (not at grass) and at the other with access to pasture sheep/goats at one farm on lowland and at the other on upland
Age of animals at start of assessment less than 20 days less than 6 months
Ear tag numbers use the herd mark of the test farm and the next available batch of numbers use the herd mark of the test farm and the next available batch of numbers
Loss and replacement of tags the assessment tags will take the place of the official tags for the duration of the assessment and are allowed to remain if the tag is approved; tags that fall out during the assessment should only be replaced with approved tags with the same unique number the assessment tags will take the place of the official tags for the duration of the assessment and are allowed to remain if the tag is approved; tags that fall out during the assessment should only be replaced with approved tags and not assessment tags
Veterinary assessment by the same vet at insertion of the tags, 7 days after insertion and 21 days after insertion at insertion of the tags, 3 weeks after insertion and 3 months after insertion

At the end of the assessment, the vet will send you a welfare report.

  • You must return the vet’s report to the ETAS Support Team who will liaise with the APHA vet to check the results.

If the ETAS Support Team are content with the results of the welfare trial they will confirm that you can move to the specification tests.

We strongly recommend that you wait for the ETAS Support Team and APHA vet to check the welfare report before you send the tags for specification tests, to avoid any unnecessary costs.

Specification tests

At your own cost, you must arrange for an ISO17025 -accredited laboratory to test the new tags against Publicly Available Specifications (PAS):

You can find a lab through the UK Accreditation Service website.

  • When you receive the lab report, you must send a copy to the ETAS Support Team, who will inform you in writing within a month if your tags have been approved.

If the ETAS Support Team is not satisfied at any part of the approval process they will write to you to explain why.

Tagging information for livestock keepers

Keepers can find information on the rules for identifying their animals at these links:

Contact

ETAS

For further information on supplying ear tags, including forms for access to ETAS and technical user guides.

ETAS Support
BCMS
Curwen Road
WORKINGTON
CA14 2DD

Keepers: email bcmsenquiries@rpa.gov.uk

Ear tag manufacturers/suppliers: email bcmsETASSection@rpa.gov.uk

BCMS helpline: 0345 050 1234

Helpline for cattle keepers in Wales: 0345 050 3456

Published 6 May 2014
Last updated 10 December 2020 + show all updates
  1. Page refreshed and updated to improve navigation and reiterate need for tag modifications to be approved before they can be supplied.

  2. The application form for an ear tag supplier or manufacturer's number has been updated and redesigned in an accessible format.

  3. Added application form for a new or modified tag

  4. New versions of the Guidance notes to applicants for approval of cattle eartags and Guidance notes to applicants for approval of sheep and goats eartags added. Publication of the Bovine Official EID technical standards, EID approval standards for sheep and goats and Service Standards documents.

  5. Updated links to the 2019 editions of the ear tag PAS documents.

  6. Updated 'Annex C NOTES FOR GUIDANCE SHEEP GOATS' and 'Annex C NOTES FOR GUIDANCE CATTLE' documents

  7. First published.