Sheep and goat identification site visits: what to expect

What happens when Rural Payments Agency field officers visit your holding, including checks on tagging, holding registers and movement records.

Applies to England

Your holding or premises might be visited by Rural Payments Agency (RPA) field officers (or other authorised officers) to check that you’re following the rules for:

This is to help prevent and contain the spread of disease.

Following the rules helps you avoid penalties such as movement restrictions on your flock or herd, fines or prosecution.

Site visits can take place throughout the year and usually take about 5 hours.

You will not usually be told that a field officer is going to visit, but in some cases you might get up to 48 hours’ notice.

How RPA chooses holdings for site visits

Holdings can be chosen at random or based on risk factors, including:

  • the number of animals on the holding (because a variety of different-sized flocks or herds need to be checked)
  • animal health reasons
  • when you register a new holding
  • results of previous visits
  • the return of annual inventories
  • the number of animal movements
  • late movement reporting
  • not following the standstill rule

Your holding might also be chosen because of a particular problem. These are called targeted site visits.

What gets checked

The field officer will check:

  • the head counts of sheep and goats
  • that animals are correctly tagged
  • 60 random animals (or all the animals if the flock or herd is fewer than 60 animals) for a detailed inspection, to check tags and trace movements
  • your holding register, including recorded movements against what you’re reported to the Livestock Information Service (LIS)
  • the documents you hold for movements on your holding

If the field officer finds that animals are incorrectly tagged, they’ll check more than 60 animals, where possible.

What happens if something is wrong

The field officer will tell you if there is something you have not done correctly and include it in a report. Depending on what this is, you could get another site visit in the future.

You’ll get a whole flock or herd movement restriction notice if:

  • you do not have any farm records or a holding register
  • more than 20% of your sample animals do not have the right tags

A copy of the notice will also be sent to the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS).

Any welfare issues will be reported to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

If the case is serious, APHA might report it to Trading Standards and you might be prosecuted.

If you need help or advice

Contact the Farming Advice Service.

Farming Advice Service
Telephone: 03000 200 301
Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5pm
Find out about call charges

Published 12 January 2016
Last updated 1 January 2024 + show all updates
  1. Removed cross compliance requirements for England. Cross compliance no longer applies in England from 1 January 2024.

  2. First published.