What you must record in your holding register (also known as a herd register or farm records), when you must do this and what you can use for your records.
Applies to England and Wales
If you keep cattle, including bison and buffalo, you must keep a holding register (also known as a herd register or farm records) to record:
- movements - you must also record any movements in the animal’s passport
- changes to official ear tag numbers
You must keep a separate register for each of your holdings.
You must keep your register up to date and available if an inspector asks to check it.
By law you must keep an accurate register. Keeping these records protects the health of your livestock. It also helps to trace animals.
When you must update your holding register
You must update your holding register within:
- 36 hours of a movement on or off a holding
- 36 hours of replacing an ear tag, if the ear tag number has changed
- 7 days of the birth of a dairy animal
- 30 days of the birth of all other cattle
- 7 days of a death
You must update your holding register within 36 hours of tagging with a new official ear tag number for cattle:
- born or imported into Great Britain before 1 January 1998 and the official ear tag number has changed
- imported from outside the EU
What you must record in your holding register
By law, for each animal your holding register must contain the:
- official ear tag number
- date of birth
- official cattle breed code
- genetic dam’s official ear tag number for animals born on your holding
- surrogate dam’s official ear tag number for animals born on your holding (only if a surrogate gave birth to the calf)
- date of any movements on and off your holding (including if it’s lost or stolen)
- county parish holding (CPH) number or the name and address of the keeper where it has moved from or to
- date of death if the animal dies on your holding
You must also record the animal’s original:
- official ear tag number if it was born or imported into Great Britain before 1998 and the official ear tag number has changed
- official identification number if it was imported from outside the EU
You can choose to record:
- the sire’s official ear tag number if known
- a running total of cattle on your holding
What you can use as a holding register
You can choose how to record the information about your cattle. For example, you could use:
How long to keep your holding register
From 31 December of the year you last made an entry, you must keep your holding register for:
- 10 years if you have a farm
- 3 years if it’s for a showground, market, abattoir or collection centre
If you are unsure how long to keep your holding register, contact the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS).
What else you need to do
You must report to the BCMS by the deadlines any:
- movements on or off your holding
- deaths on your holding
- deaths if you run a slaughterhouse
- new official ear tag numbers
You must also keep records of any veterinary medicines used on your cattle. You can choose how to keep these records. There is a section in the template holding register that you can use.
More information on what you must do when keeping cattle, bison and buffalo.