Livestock Identification and Traceability

Guidance on the identification of cattle, pigs, sheet, goats and horses

All movements of cattle, pigs, sheep and goats (with a few exceptions e.g. for veterinary treatment) must be reported to the appropriate body responsible for maintaining the national database within 3 days i.e.

In the event of a disease outbreak, the precise location of all livestock is essential for effective measures to control and eradicate highly contagious diseases.

Before moving livestock to a holding you need a County Parish Holding number (CPH) (issued by the Scottish Government) for the land where the livestock will be kept. The CPH is a nine digit number, the first 2 digits relate to the county, the next 3 relate to the parish and the last 4 digits are a unique number to the keeper e.g. 12/345/6789 The CPH is a crucial factor in identifying the actual holding animals are being moved from and to.

To obtain a CPH No you need to contact the Oban office of the Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate (SGRPID) and let them know the details of the land you are going to be using to keep livestock on. They will register your details and issue you with the correct CPH Number.  Once you have received your CPH Number you then need to contact your local Animal Health office (Perth office for Argyll and Ayr for Bute) and register with them the species of livestock that you are going to keep (cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, etc.).

When a keeper of livestock is registered a unique flock/herd mark will automatically be created. Herdmarks for pigs are one or two letters followed by four digits e.g. AB1234 or A1234. Flock/herd marks for cattle, sheep and goats are six digits e.g. 123456. The herdmark provides a quick and effective means of identifying premises from which livestock have moved.

Once you have done all this and have actually got your livestock please inform Argyll and Bute Council so that we can update our records.



Cattle born on or after 1 January 1998 must have a DEFRA approved eartag in each ear (double tagging). One tag must be a primary eartag i.e. a distance readable eartag. Each eartag must have the same unique number. Such animals will be identified throughout their lifetime by this unique number. Animals born or imported into Great Britain before 1 January 1998 may continue to be identified by a single tag.

Farm records:    

Records of cattle births, movements and deaths must be kept by keepers for 10 full calendar years.


Cattle born since 1 July 1996 must have passports, recording where they have been throughout their lives. Older cattle have been issued with certificates of CTS Registration;

The Cattle Tracing System (CTS) is a computer based system to register cattle in Great Britain maintained by the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS). The CTS records the identification and death of cattle, the movements from birth to death of cattle issued with passports from 28 September 1998, and the movements of older cattle since 29 January 2001. Cattle keepers can now register new calves, report movements and check information held on their cattle on the CTS through the CTS website.

For further information on cattle identification and traceability please see the Scottish Government Website on Cattle.

Sheep and Goats


For sheep born after 31 December 2009 options are

  • Two identifiers: 
    for breeding sheep you keep beyond 12 months of age. One identifier must be electronic and both must have the same number
  • One tag:
    for sheep intended for slaughter under 12 months of age only a single tag is required - it only needs to have the herd number
  • Upgrading: 
    You can upgrade a slaughter animal if you want to keep it more than 12 months but only if full history is known. You must apply two identifiers one of which must be electronic

Farm Register:    

A register of sheep and goat movements must be kept by keepers for 3 years;

Annual Inventory: 

A record must be made of the number of sheep and goats on a holding on the 1 January of each year and detail notified to SGRD.

Movement Document: 

All movements for Sheep and Goats (except for emergency veterinary treatment) must be accompanied by a movement document. A copy of the movement document must be retained at the holdings of departure and destination for 3 years. The information relating to the movement must also be notified to SAMU within 3 days of the movement.

For further information please see the Scottish Government Website on Sheep and Goats


Main Requirements - You must

• Register the pig holding with the Divisional Veterinary Manager

• Maintain an up-to-date herd register

• Comply with standstill period (20 days)

• Identify pigs before they are moved by using an eartag, tattoo or slapmark

• Ensure pigs are accompanied by appropriate movement form if applicable


• Feed kitchen scraps or swill to pigs


All pigs must be identified before they are moved (e.g. tattoo, slapmark or eartag)

  • “UK” + Herdmark + individual number

What type of identification you use is your own choice.  However, you should consider the options with advice from your animal health product supplier and if he/she has concerns about the welfare issues of (for instance) putting eartags into older pigs, you should consult your veterinary surgeon.

Many small scale pig producers operate extensive systems and it is necessary to be sure that you can handle pigs in order to attach or apply identification in a way which is as stress free as possible and which is also safe for you as the handler.

Farm Records:    

You must maintain a movement register of movements on or off your holding and these should be recorded within 48 hours of the movement.  These records must be maintained for a minimum of 3 years.

You can keep your register, in any format you wish; however, it must contain at least the following information:

• the name and address of the keeper, including CPH number;

• the date the pigs were moved;

• the address and CPH number where the pig(s) were moved from;

• the address and CPH number where the pig(s) were moved to;

• the number of pigs moved; and

• the temporary mark or identification number, including the unique individual identification number, if applicable.

Annual Inventory: 

A record must be made of the maximum number of pigs on a holding at least annually.

Movement Document: 

Any movements of pigs will need to be reported via the ScotEID movement database at or by telephone on 01466 794323 either prior to the movement taking place or on the day of the movement.  There is a provision to notify by post and a proforma is available from the ScotEID website. 

Where a movement has been notified directly to the ScotEID database either electronically or by telephone then the movement does not require to be accompanied by a movement document. There are however, a number of movements which must be accompanied by a movement document:

  • pigs less than 12 months old and identified with a temporary mark; or
  • the movement is being notified by post; or
  • pigs moving to England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

There are no exemptions for pet animals.

More detailed guidance in relation to keeping and moving pigs is provided on the Scottish Government site for Pig Keepers.


All horses (includes ponies, donkeys and crossbreeds) are required to have their own ‘horse passport’.

The Horse Identification (Scotland) Regulations 2009 requires that when a horse (includes weaned foal) is moved

  • for competition purposes;
  • for breeding purposes;
  • out of Scotland;
  • to the premises of a new keeper; or
  • for veterinary treatment

it must be accompanied by a valid horse passport.

It is an offence for any person to sell a horse without a passport.  For all new horse passport applications the horse must be microchipped.

Why does my horse need a passport?

  • It allows the continued use of certain Veterinary Medicines: some medicines can only be used for horses that are signed out of the food chain;
  • It helps to protect Your Horse: identifying your horse is essential for health and welfare cases. It also means your horse can be traced if it is stolen – the link between the microchip and the passport makes it difficult for criminals to sell your horse on;
  • It allows you to decide whether Your Horse is sold into the Meat Trade: passports allow owners to decide whether or not their horse will enter the food chain;
  • It’s the Law: horse passports are a legal requirement and non-compliance could lead to a fine of up to £5,000 or imprisonment. 

As a horse owner, you must:

  1. Have your horse microchipped if it was born after 1 July 2009, or if it is getting a passport for the first time. A foal must be microchipped and have a passport before it’s 6 months old or by 31 December in the year it’s born, whichever is later.
  2. Have a horse passport from an approved Passport Issuing Organisation (PIO) – and update the PIO if the ownership of the horse changes. Applying for a passport for an older horse does not automatically trigger enforcement action.
  3. Sign Section IX of your horse’s passport – sign Section IX Part II if you want to prevent your horse from ever entering the food chain.
  4. Ensure your vet sees your horse’s passport prior to providing treatment.
  5. Keep the passport with your horse – including when it travels.
  6. Return your horse’s passport to the PIO when your horse dies to update their record and prevent fraud (It may be returned to you on request after it has been invalidated.).

For further information please refer to the Scottish Government Website on Horses.

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