NLIS cattle tagging requirements
Investing now, protecting tomorrow
It is vital that cattle are identified and tracked from their property of birth to slaughter. By doing this, the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) protects the reputation of Australia’s cattle industry as a supplier of safe food.
Producers must keep on top of livestock identification, NLIS records and movement declarations to support their industry and to work within the law. Victoria exported meat valued at over $2.4 billion in 2016–17. The state’s beef industry is recognised for its premium grass-fed and feeder cattle and is a major exporter of lean manufacturing beef 1. Victorian dairy contributes almost 80% of Australia’s dairy exports to more than 100 countries.
What are NLIS (Cattle) tags?
There are two types of cattle devices, NLIS (Cattle) breeder tags and NLIS (Cattle) post-breeder tags.
NLIS (Cattle) breeder tags are white and are used to permanently identify cattle before they leave their property of birth.
NLIS (Cattle) post breeder tags are orange and are used to permanently identify introduced cattle, not already identified, or that have lost their original tag.
Purchasing NLIS (Cattle) electronic tags
Victorian producers can purchase NLIS tags for cattle at cost-competitive prices.
There are two ways to purchase NLIS (Cattle) tags:
- Visit tags.agriculture.vic.gov.au to use Agriculture Victoria’s online tag ordering service.
- Download an application form and then complete and return to Agriculture Victoria (the postal address is listed on the form).
What are the NLIS (Cattle) tagging requirements?
When applying NLIS (Cattle) breeder tags and post-breeder (PB) tags:
- attach to the right (offside) ear
- only one NLIS (Cattle) tag should be attached to an animal
- those purchased for use on one property must not be applied to cattle located on another property
NLIS (Cattle) breeder tags and post-breeder (PB) tags:
- must not be sold, given away or reused must not be removed until the animal is processed in an abattoir or knackery – UNLESS the device is damaged and cannot be read electronically.
1. If an NLIS (Cattle) tag will not read, a producer is permitted to remove it provided:
the animal is immediately re-tagged with either an NLIS (Cattle) breeder tag (if the animal was bred on the property it is currently on) or an NLIS PB tag (if the animal was introduced to the property it is currently on), and
if the replacement tag is a PB device the NLIS database is notified within 24 hours of the NLIS number printed on the tag that has been removed AND the NLIS or microchip number associated with the replacement NLIS PB tag.
2. In the event that a NLIS (Cattle) tag will not read when scanned in a saleyard or scale, an NLIS PB device is to be applied and the NLIS database notified within 24 hours of the NLIS number printed on the tag that has been removed AND the NLIS or microchip number associated with the replacement NLIS PB tag.
All bobby calves, store, breeding, prime and cull cattle, regardless of age, must carry an NLIS (Cattle) tag at the time of dispatch to a Victorian saleyard, scale, abattoir, knackery, agricultural show or to another property.
Adult cattle that have died and are to be collected by a knackery must be identified with an NLIS (Cattle) tag. Dead bobby cales (less than six weeks of age) that are dispatched to a knackery may be identified with either an NLIS (Cattle) tag, or visual ear tag on which is printed the Property Identification Code (PIC) of the property from which the calf was dispatched.
Cattle leaving a property need to be NLIS identified regardless of the destination. Interstate cattle, including bobby calves entering Victoria for immediate slaughter, must be identified with an NLIS (Cattle) tag at the time of dispatch to a Victorian destination.
Producers who are unable to safely tag their cattle must obtain a permit prior to dispatching cattle without NLIS identification.
Please call the toll-free Agriculture Victoria NLIS Helpline on 1800 678 779 between 9am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday, for more information on obtaining a permit.
It is an offence to dispatch, transport and to auction cattle that are not correctly NLIS identified.
Property Identification Codes (PICs)
Under Victorian law, individuals must have a PIC for the properties on which they graze cattle and other livestock. There is no cost when applying for a PIC, or to update PIC details.
To apply for a PIC: *You can apply online or download an application form by visiting agriculture.vic.gov.au/pic.
*Contact the Agriculture Victoria NLIS Helpline on 1800 678 779 between 9.00am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday.
Linking parcels of land
Linking a parcel of land under a PIC allows producers who have more than one property to use one PIC. It also allows for agistment or leased properties to be linked under a ‘primary’ PIC.
The rules for linking parcels of land are:
- properties are run as a single farming operation under the one management
- all additional parcels of land are correctly mapped and linked to the ‘primary’ PIC
- properties are located either within the same municipality (shire, rural city, etc.), or within adjacent municipalities.
Recording livestock movement on the NLIS database
Property-to-property (P2P) Transfer
After animals are moved between properties with two different PICs (often called a P2P movement) it is the responsibility of the buyer/receiver of the cattle to notify the NLIS database of stock movements by conducting a transfer on the database.
The buyer/receiver may engage someone else to notify the database on their behalf including the person who dispatched the livestock or a stock agent. The database transfer must be completed within two days of the arrival of the cattle.
When livestock are bought or sold through a saleyard, cattle scale operator, public auction conducted on-farm or sold directly to an abattoir, it is the responsibility of the person operating the business to notify the database.
What are my responsibilities for cattle on agistment?
Cattle moving to an agistment property must be identified with an NLIS (Cattle) tag prior to dispatch.
If the agistment property operates under a different PIC, the movement of the cattle must be recorded on the NLIS database as for other P2P movements. The database transfer must be completed within two days of the arrival of the cattle at the agistment property.
Cattle born on an agistment property must be identified with an NLIS Breeder tag issued for use on that property. If the manager of the agistment property is unwilling to allow his/her NLIS (Cattle) tags to be used to identify agisted cattle, Agriculture Victoria will allocate a second PIC to the agistment property, to allow the owner of the agisted cattle to obtain the necessary NLIS (Cattle) tags.
Do I need to supply a National Vendor Declaration (NVD) when selling cattle?
Livestock producers use an NVD to declare necessary and valuable information about the food safety status of livestock being sold. It contains a declaration from the owner that all information is correct.
An NVD must be completed by the owner or person responsible for husbandry of the livestock before dispatch to the next property whether that be a saleyard, scale operation, abattoir or when selling livestock privately.
The NVD must be provided to the person receiving the stock by no later than the time of arrival of the stock.
Once you are registered and accredited with LPA, you can order LPA NVDs online at any time via the LPA Service Centre, using the following link lpa.nlis.com.au
Both hard copy forms and electronic LPA NVDs (eDECs) are available. You can also order LPA NVDs by calling 1800 683 111 (9am – 5pm AEST Monday – Friday).
For more information
See our page on NLIS cattle.
Call: Agriculture Victoria’s NLIS Helpline on 1800 678 779 during business hours