Sheep and goat identification inspection

Information for farmers about inspections the Rural Payments Agency carries out on sheep and goats' ear tags and farm records, including movement records.

Who gets inspected

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) check some holdings chosen at random. Others are chosen based on risk factors, which include:

  • the number of animals (a variety of different-sized flocks will be inspected)
  • animal health considerations
  • new holdings
  • results of previous inspections
  • return of annual inventories by the end of December
  • number of animal movements
  • late movement reporting
  • breaches of standstill orders

In some cases an inspection is carried out because of a particular problem on a holding. These are called targeted inspections.

RPA will usually not tell you that you’re going to be inspected, but in some cases you might get up to 48 hours’ notice.

Inspections take place throughout the year and usually take about 5 hours.

What gets inspected

The inspector will carry out checks which include a:

  • full head count of your sheep and goats and will look for missing or incorrectly applied ear tags
  • detailed inspection of 60 randomly selected animals (or all animals if the flock is below 60) to check and electronically read the ear-tags for these animals - they will also trace a sample of these animals’ movement history through the records
  • check of your farm records, including movement records against the movements reported to Animal Reporting and Movement Service (ARAMS) and the ARAMS1 licences you hold for movements on to your holding

If the inspector finds tags that have been applied incorrectly, they will check more than 60 animals.

What happens next

The inspector will tell you what they’ve found. They will fill in a Control Report Form form which will be used to:

  • see if any reductions or penalties need to be applied to your Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payment
  • report any cross compliance issues (these may be followed up as a targeted inspection)

If you do not have any farm records or the right tags for more than 20% of your sample, the inspector will give you a ‘whole flock/herd movement restriction’ notice. A copy will be sent to the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS).

The inspector will report any welfare issues to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). They will pass on serious cases to Trading Standards. Your local authority Trading Standards may prosecute you in serious cases.

Published 12 January 2016