Keep a holding register for cattle

All cattle keepers must keep a holding register showing births, movements and deaths for cattle, bison and buffalo they are responsible for.

As a cattle keeper, you must keep a holding register for your cattle. The register includes specific information about each of your animals.

The format of the holding register

You can keep your records on paper, a computer or a combination of both. The law does not specify the form of the holding register, so you can:

  • download a blank holding register (PDF, 330KB, 46 pages) or contact the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) to get a copy posted to you
  • use a record book produced by your local authority, if available in your area (not available in Scotland or Wales)
  • use a computerised spreadsheet or a software package
  • use any notebook or other record book (so long as you record all of the information listed below)

Records must be available for checking by an official inspector on request (eg at a holding inspection). If you keep your records on computer, you may wish to keep a paper copy as a back-up.

What to record in your register

The register must contain the following details for each animal:

  • its ear tag number
  • its date of birth
  • its sex
  • its breed
  • the dam’s ear tag number (from 6 April 2015 this information is only required for animals born on your holding)
  • the date of any movement it makes on and off your holding (including movements to or from any other holding you occupy)
  • details of where it has moved from or to (record either the CPH number or the name and address of the keeper)
  • its date of death

You must also record these events:

Records for calf movements through markets

A calf under 12 weeks old must not go to market more than twice in any 28 day period. When a calf under 12 weeks old is brought to a market, the market operator should check with the seller whether the animal has been to a market during the previous 28 days. If it has, the operator must record:

  • the address of that market (even if it’s the same one)
  • the date(s) on which the calf was there

Deadlines for updating the holding register

You should complete your records as soon as you can after the event concerned. You must complete them within:

  • 36 hours in the case of movement on or off a holding
  • 7 days for the birth of a dairy animal
  • 30 days for the birth of all other cattle
  • 7 days of death
  • 36 hours of replacing ear tags where the identification number is changed

Please Note - For cattle or buffalo, your passport application must arrive with the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) within 27 days of the birth of the animal. For bison, it must arrive within 7 days of the birth.

How long to keep your records

Holding registers must be retained for 10 years from the end of the calendar year in which the last entry was made. Other registers (eg those kept at markets) must be retained for 3 years from the end of that year.

Contact BCMS

British Cattle Movement Service

Curwen Road
Derwent Howe
CA14 2DD

Normal BCMS helpline opening hours: Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5pm, closed weekends and bank holidays. All calls charged at local rate.

Published 6 May 2014
Last updated 13 May 2019 + show all updates
  1. Format of blank holding register updated to be more screen and printer-friendly (hrb1 replaced with hrb1a.)

  2. Updated herd register added

  3. Updated 'the dam’s ear tag number' text

  4. First published.