Your Guide to Victoria's Cattle Identification Legislation
The National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) is Australia's system for identifying and tracking beef and dairy cattle for food safety, disease control and market access purposes.
The NLIS has been implemented nationally under the auspices of SAFEMEAT (the national industry/government partnership responsible for food safety policy within the Australian red meat industries). All States/Territories have progressively implemented the NLIS.
The NLIS enables cattle to be reliably identified and tracked from their property of birth to slaughter, protecting the reputation of Australia's cattle industry as a supplier of 'clean' wholesome beef and dairy products.
For information call our NLIS Helpline on 1800 678 779 during business hours.
NLIS tagging requirements at a glance
- There are two types of NLIS Devices endorsed for the permanent identification of cattle. They are known as Breeder Devices and Post-breeder Devices.
- NLIS Breeder Devices are white and must only be used to permanently identify cattle that are on their property of birth.
- NLIS Post-breeder Devices are orange and are used to permanently identify introduced cattle, not already identified with a Breeder or Post-breeder Device.
- NLIS Devices are stamped with the NLIS logo and the words 'Do not remove'.
- Bobby calves and store, breeding, prime and cull cattle, regardless of age, must carry an NLIS Device at the time of dispatch to a Victorian saleyard, scales, abattoir, knackery, agricultural show or to another Victorian property.
- Adult cattle that have died and are to be collected by a knackery must also be identified with an NLIS Device. Dead bobby calves (less than six weeks of age) that are dispatched to a knackery may be identified with either an NLIS Device, or a tail tag or bobby calf ear tag on which is printed the PIC of the property from which the calf was dispatched.
- Cattle leaving Victoria need to be NLIS identified regardless of the destination.
- Interstate cattle, including bobby calves entering Victoria for immediate slaughter, must be NLIS identified 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 NLIS Helpline on 1800 678 779 for more information on obtaining a permit.
- It is an offence to transport and to auction cattle that are not correctly NLIS identified.
When tagging cattle
- NLIS Breeder and Post-breeder Devices must be attached to the right (offside) ear.
- Never attach a second NLIS Device if an NLIS Device is already present.
- Breeder and Post-breeder Devices purchased for use on one property must not be applied to cattle located on another property.
- Breeder and Post-breeder Devices must not be sold, given away or reused.
- Breeder and Post-breeder Devices must not be removed until the animal is processed in an abattoir or knackery – unless the device is damaged and cannot be read electronically (see Question 13).
When trading cattle
- The person receiving NLIS tagged cattle directly from another property must notify the NLIS database within 7 days of their arrival.
- A person who purchases cattle at a saleyard must at the time of purchase provide the selling agent with the Property Identification Code (PIC) for the next property or the abattoir to which the cattle are to be taken.
- Consignors of cattle are required to provide a National Vendor Declaration (NVD) on which is printed the PIC of the property of dispatch to the person receiving the cattle.
Rules relating to transaction tags (including tail tags) at a glance
- Under Victorian law transaction tags such as tail tags no longer need to be attached to cattle that are being consigned to a Victorian saleyard, scales or abattoir provided the cattle carry an NLIS Device and are accompanied by a correctly completed NVD.
- Stock agents and scales operators are required to attach a blue tail tag or NLIS Post-breeder Tag issued for use at the saleyard or scales to the cattle that they sell if the cattle are not carrying a functioning NLIS Device. Tagging must occur before the cattle leave the yards.
- The Commonwealth Department of Agriculture no longer requires the tail tagging of European Union (EU) eligible cattle using a lime-green tail tag.
Answers to commonly asked questions
Q1 What are NLIS Devices?
There are two types of NLIS Devices endorsed for the permanent identification of cattle. They are known as Breeder Devices and Post-breeder Devices. NLIS Breeder Devices are white and are used by a breeder to permanently identify cattle before they leave their property of birth. NLIS Post-breeder Devices are orange and are used to permanently identify introduced cattle, not already identified with a Breeder or Postbreeder Device.
NLIS Breeder and Post-breeder Devices are available in the form of an ear tag, or an ear tag/rumen bolus combination. With ear tag/rumen bolus combinations, the bolus contains the microchip. The visually readable NLIS Number is printed on a large ear tag (white for NLIS Breeder Devices and orange for NLIS Post-breeder Devices) along with the letter 'R' or word 'RUMEN'. The ear tag signals that a bolus has been administered to the animal. Because of its large size, this ear tag can also function as an on-farm management tag.
NLIS Devices are stamped with the NLIS logo and the words 'Do not remove'. Cattle only need to be permanently identified once, either with an NLIS Breeder Device or a NLIS Post-breeder Device. If cattle you buy are already identified with an NLIS Device, do not attach a second NLIS Device.
NLIS Devices must be attached to the right (off-side) ear. Because NLIS ear tags are small, it is relatively simple to place the tag in the right (off-side) ear of cattle even when the cattle already have a management tag in this ear.
NLIS Breeder Devices and Post-breeder Devices contain a microchip encoded with a unique unalterable number that can be accurately read electronically in a fraction of a second with a suitable reader. A unique number, known as the NLIS number, is printed on each NLIS Device. This number can be read visually.
A special applicator designed for the particular NLIS Device being attached must be used. If the wrong applicator is used, Device retention will be compromised and the microchip in the NLIS Device may be damaged.
To obtain an application form for NLIS Devices, visit a Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) office or call our toll-free Helpline on 1800 678 779.
You can also order NLIS Devices online using a credit card. You will need to enter your Property Identification Code (PIC) to be able to place an order for NLIS Devices.
Q2 How are NLIS ear tags used?
Currently, there are six nationally approved suppliers of NLIS ear tags - Allflex, Datamars, Drovers ID, Leader Products, OS Id Australia and Zee Tags. DEDJTR has contracts with Allflex, Datamars and Leader Products to supply ear tags to Victorian producers, however producers are free to purchase and use other NLIS approved Devices. The same microchip (transponder) technology is used in all NLIS approved Devices.
For up-to-date prices or to find out how to order NLIS tags, call our Helpline on 1800 678 779 or go to our NLIS webpage.
When using NLIS Devices read carefully and follow the directions provided by the supplier.
NLIS ear tags must be attached to the right (off-side) ear per the illustration below. The microchip component of the ear tag must be placed on the inside of the ear close to the head.
The electronic Breeder/Post-breeder Tag must be applied to the RIGHT (off side) ear as per illustration.
Q3 Can I identify my cattle using NLIS approved rumen boluses?
Under Victorian law, producers have the option of using NLIS approved ear tag/rumen bolus combinations instead of NLIS approved ear tags if they wish. To correctly NLIS identify an animal to which a bolus has been administered, the associated rumen bolus ear tag must also be attached to the right (off-side) ear.
Rumen boluses typically cannot be administered to calves under approximately three months of age. Rumen boluses, once administered, have excellent retention characteristics. It is virtually impossible to remove a bolus from a living animal.
The NVD includes a question about whether cattle in a consignment are NLIS identified, and if 'yes', whether an NLIS approved bolus or ear tag has been used. At the present time, the Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) representing processors is opposed to the use of boluses as part of the NLIS (Cattle). Some processors are reluctant to purchase cattle that have been identified with boluses.
If you would like information about the use of NLIS accredited boluses, call our toll-free Helpline on 1800 678 779 during office hours.
Q4 What is a Property Identification Code (PIC)?
A Property Identification Code (PIC) is the eight character alphanumeric code allocated by DEDJTR or the equivalent authority in other States/Territories to a livestock producing property. In Victoria, PICs commence with the prefix '3' and are in the format '3ABCD123'. New South Wales, Queensland and South Australian PICs commence with the prefix 'N', 'Q' and 'S' respectively. PICs were formerly known as 'tail tag numbers'.
Livestock producers are required by law to have a PIC for the properties on which they graze their livestock. If you are unsure of your PIC, or need to obtain a PIC, call our Helpline on 1800 678 779 during business hours. To obtain a PIC you need to provide the Council Rate Assessment Number/s printed on your rate notice/s for all parcels of land associated with your property, including leased and agistment land that forms part of your property.
The NLIS Number printed on NLIS Devices commences with the PIC of the property on which the Device is to be used.
Consignors of cattle are required to provide an National Vendor Declaration (NVD), on which is printed the PIC of the property of dispatch, to the person receiving the cattle.
Q5 Which cattle need to be NLIS identified?
All cattle regardless of their age, with the exemption of cattle accompanied by a DEDJTR permit, must carry an NLIS Device prior to dispatch to a Victorian saleyard, scales, abattoir, agricultural showground or to another Victorian or interstate property.
Adult cattle that have died and are to be collected by a knackery must also be identified with an NLIS Device. Dead bobby calves (less than six weeks of age) that are dispatched to a knackery may be identified with either an NLIS Device, or a tail tag or bobby calf ear tag on which is printed the PIC of the property from which the calf was dispatched.
All cattle arriving on a Victorian property that are found not to have been identified with an NLIS Device must be identified with an orange Post-breeder Device issued for use on that property within 30 days of their arrival, or if they are to be moved within 30 days, before dispatch. This includes cattle sourced from interstate, cattle that have lost their NLIS Device in transit and cattle identified with blue tail tags.
Breeders can attach an NLIS Breeder Device to their cattle at any time before the cattle leave their property of birth. A convenient time to attach an NLIS Device is at marking on beef properties and when calves are weaned and turned out to pasture on dairy farms. Cattle are easier to restrain for tagging when they are young.
Producers who cannot safely tag their cattle can apply to a DEDJTR Inspector for a permit to move their cattle without NLIS identification. A permit will only be granted to move cattle to an abattoir or knackery, or to a location where they will be immediately tagged with an NLIS Postbreeder Device issued for use at that location.
If the cattle in question are dangerous, the permit will require that the producer take the cattle directly to an abattoir or knackery.
If the reason for the application is a lack of suitable facilities, the producer will be given the option of taking the cattle to a saleyard that has obtained Post-breeder Devices and is willing to tag the cattle on a fee for service basis. Cattle must be tagged as soon as practicable after arrival, and no later than before the commencement of the sale. Not all saleyards have Post-breeder Devices and are willing to tag cattle arriving under permit.
It is an offence under Victorian law for a producer, agent or saleyard staff to tag cattle at a saleyard using Devices issued for use on the property from which the cattle were dispatched.
To obtain an application form for a permit to move cattle that are not NLIS identified, visit a DEDJTR office or call our toll-free Helpline on 1800 678 779.
Q6 Do bobby calves need to be NLIS identified?
Bobby calves are cattle less than six weeks of age not accompanied by their dams. Bobby calves must be NLIS identified before being consigned to an abattoir, scales operation or saleyard.
Bobby calves to be raised on another property, e.g. by a contract rearer or as part of a 'bull beef' program, must be identified by the breeder with an NLIS Breeder Device before leaving their property of birth. Calves accompanying their dams to a saleyard to be sold together as a cow/calf unit must also be NLIS identified.
Dead bobby calves that are dispatched to a knackery may be identified with either an NLIS Device, or a tail tag or bobby calf ear tag on which is printed the PIC of the property from which the calf was dispatched.
Q7 Are 'tail tags' and NVDs required?
Under Victorian law transaction tags such as tail tags no longer need to be attached to cattle that are being consigned to a Victorian saleyard, scales or abattoir provided the cattle carry an NLIS Device and are accompanied by a correctly completed NVD.
The Commonwealth Department of Agriculture no longer requires that EU eligible cattle consigned to an EU accredited saleyard or directly to an EU listed abattoir be identified with a lime-green tail tag.
Q8 How are cattle that are not NLIS identified managed in saleyards?
Cattle arriving at a saleyard must be scanned before they are sold.
Stock agents and scales operators are required to attach an NLIS Post-breeder Device issued for use at the saleyard or scales to cattle that arrive without NLIS identification before the cattle are sold. The only exception is for dangerous cattle, e.g. adult bulls, that cannot be safely tagged. Such cattle must be identified with a blue tail tag before they are sold, and a record established of the PIC of their last property of residence. They can only be sold for immediate slaughter.
If cattle arrive at a saleyard or scales with an NLIS Device that cannot be read electronically, the stock agent or scales operator must, before the animal is sold, either replace the non-functioning tag with a Post-breeder Device, or alternatively identify the animal with a blue tail tag. Cattle with blue tags must be sold for slaughter.
Cattle arriving on a Victorian property that are found not to have been identified with an NLIS Device must be identified with an orange Post-breeder Device issued for use on that property within 30 days of their arrival, or if they are to be moved within 30 days, before dispatch. This includes cattle sourced from interstate, and cattle that have lost their NLIS Device in transit.
Q9 What happens if an animal loses its Breeder or Post-breeder Device?
Provided NLIS Devices are applied using the correct applicator and in accordance with the instructions supplied with Device orders, it is unlikely that NLIS Devices will be lost. Loss rates on most properties should not exceed one per cent per year.
If an NLIS Breeder or Post-breeder Device is lost from cattle, the owner must re-tag the animal with a white NLIS Breeder Device if the animal is still on its property of birth, or with an orange NLIS Post-breeder Device if the animal is no longer on its property of birth.
Re-tagging can occur at any convenient time prior to the movement of the animal from the property on which the NLIS Device was lost. NLIS Devices that are lost, if located in yards or paddocks, must not be reused. Producers can if they wish report to the NLIS database that an NLIS Device has been lost and replaced, however the reporting of lost NLIS Devices is optional.
Q10 Are saleyards, scales and abattoirs required to read the NLIS Devices on my cattle?
Saleyards and scales throughout Victoria are required to routinely read the NLIS Devices carried by the cattle that are sold at their facilities and advise the NLIS database of the PIC of the purchaser's property. Cattle must be scanned before they are sold.
Victorian abattoirs are required to read the NLIS Devices carried by the cattle they process and notify the NLIS database that these cattle have been slaughtered. In addition, abattoirs are required to upload to the database (as a minimum) Hot Standard Carcase Weight or weight at slaughter for all cattle identified with an NLIS Device. This information is available to the consignor and breeder from the NLIS database via the internet.
Q11 Are producers required to notify the NLIS database when they buy or sell cattle?
Under Victorian law, producers consigning cattle to a saleyard or abattoir, and producers purchasing cattle at a saleyard, are not required to notify the NLIS database of the movement of these animals. The saleyard or abattoir operator will scan these cattle and report relevant information to the database.
Victorian producers are required to notify the NLIS database when they receive NLIS tagged cattle directly from another property, including cattle arriving on agistment. Notification must occur within seven days of the arrival of the cattle and is the responsibility of the person receiving the cattle. Note – producers purchasing cattle at private auction remain responsible for notifying the NLIS database.
Producers are required to advise the database of the following information:
- microchip or NLIS number for each head
- date of the movement
- PIC of the property of last residence (which must be provided by the consignor)
- PIC of the property to which the cattle were consigned
- NVD serial number.
Beef producers and dairy farmers receiving cattle directly from another property have a number of options for notifying the database. These include:
- Organising with the person consigning the cattle to scan the cattle and notify the database. However, it is the responsibility of the person receiving the cattle to ensure that this occurs.
- Purchasing (or borrowing) a scanner and opening a database account. Access the NLIS database here. For further information, contact the NLIS Database Helpline on 1800 654 743.
- Engaging a stock agent, saleyard operator, contractor, dairy herd improvement centre or livestock transporter with scanning equipment to scan the cattle and notify the database.
- Forwarding to NLIS Limited a list of the NLIS numbers associated with each NLIS Device attached to the cattle in the consignment. There is a fee for the processing of paper based movement records. For further information call NLIS Limited on 1800 654 743 during office hours.
Q12 Can I remove, sell or reuse a Breeder or Post-breeder Device?
Once an NLIS Breeder or Post-breeder Device is attached to cattle it must not be removed until the animal is processed in an abattoir or knackery unless written permission is first obtained from DEDJTR. The only exception is if the microchip in a NLIS Device is damaged and cannot be read electronically (see Question 13).
NLIS Breeder and Post-breeder Devices must not be sold or given away. Devices that have been lost from cattle, if found, must not be reused.
Q13 What should I do if the microchip within an NLIS Device can not be read?
If the microchip within an NLIS Device will not read, firstly check that the reader is functioning properly. Flat batteries and loose connections are often to blame.
If an NLIS Device still will not read, a producer is permitted to remove it provided:
- the animal is immediately re-tagged with either an NLIS Breeder Device (if the animal was bred on the property) or an NLIS Post-breeder Device (if the animal was introduced), and
- if the replacement Device is a Post-breeder Device, the NLIS database is, within 24 hours, notified of the NLIS number printed on the Device that has been removed and also the NLIS or microchip number associated with the replacement NLIS Post-breeder Device.
Producers with NLIS database access can enter this information directly onto the database.
Q14 What are my responsibilities for cattle on agistment?
Cattle moving to an agistment property must be NLIS identified prior to dispatch.
Where the agistment property is in the same locality as the 'home' property, it may be feasible to include this parcel of land under the PIC of the 'home' property.
If the agistment property operates under a different PIC, the movement of the cattle must be registered on the NLIS database by the person responsible for the cattle within seven days of the arrival of the cattle (see Question 11).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 Devices to be used to identify agisted cattle, DEDJTR will allocate a second PIC to the agistment property to allow the owner of the agisted cattle to obtain the NLIS Devices that are needed.
Q15 What are my obligations if I purchase a property?
Producers who acquire a property need to contact our Helpline on 1800 678 779. The old PIC for the purchased property remains with the previous owner and a new PIC is issued to the purchaser.
If the purchase is on a 'walk in/walk out' basis, the new owner is not required to scan NLIS Devices on the cattle present on the property and transfer the cattle from the old PIC to the new PIC on the NLIS database. However, if the new owner decides not to scan and transfer the cattle, the cattle will lose their 'Lifetime Traceable' status which may have commercial implications when the cattle are sold (see Question 24).
If unused NLIS Devices remain on the property, the numbers must be recorded and the Helpline contacted to ensure that these Devices are registered on the NLIS database against the new PIC before they are used.
Contact the helpline on 1800 678 779 for advice on the transfer of unused Devices from the PIC to which they were issued to a different PIC.
Q16 Can I use my NLIS Devices for on-farm herd management purposes?
NLIS Breeder and Post-breeder Devices contain microchips that can be read electronically by beef producers and dairy farmers who decide to purchase a suitable reader. Hand held readers are available from about $1,000. Panel readers with a read distance of over one metre are more expensive, and can be used to automatically read the NLIS Devices on cattle entering a milking shed or moving along a race.
By linking a reader with a suitably programmed computer, beef producers and dairy farmers can use NLIS Devices to improve the management of their herds. NLIS Devices can also act as a 'back-up' if cattle are also identified with a larger management ear tag and this tag is lost.
NLIS technology can be used on beef properties for the maintenance of herd and breeding records, to better utilise carcase feedback information downloaded from the NLIS database and, when used in conjunction with suitable scales, to accurately and quickly weigh cattle.
On dairy farms, the NLIS Devices attached to cows can be read as they move onto a rotary platform or into the bails of a herringbone shed. This then allows electronic identification of cows at milking and facilitates simplified herd recording, automatic drafting and computer controlled feeding.
Q17 What is the number printed on the external surface of an NLIS Breeder or Post-breeder Device?
The number printed on Breeder and Post-breeder Devices is called the NLIS number, or NLIS ID, and consists of the following components:
- the eight character Property Identification Code of the property on which the Device is to be used,
- 3 characters coding for:
- the manufacturer;
- device type, e.g. whether the Device is a Breeder or Post-breeder Device; and
- year of supply (using the Australian Breedplan alpha character for that particular year, or a State/Territory approved numeral), and
- a five digit serial number - the first 'digit' may be a letter, except 'I' or 'O' ('U' tags issued in 1999 had only a four-digit serial number).
The following is an example of a NLIS number that might appear on a Breeder Device issued for use on a Victorian property.
3ABCD123 X B H 00034
3ABCD123 - Property Identification Code
X - Manufacturer
B - Device type
H - Year of supply
00034 - Serial number
Q18 Can I select the serial number sequence for the NLIS Devices I order?
To allow NLIS Devices to be used for on-farm herd management purposes, beef producers and dairy farmers, when ordering NLIS Devices, can specify the serial number sequence (the last four or five digits of the NLIS number on NLIS Devices) they would like printed on their Devices.
For example, if the last animal tagged on a property was 1234, then the beef producer or dairy farmer can order NLIS Devices with serial numbers commencing with 1235, hence maintaining the numbering system used for herd identification. The first character of the serial number sequence can also be a letter, except 'O' or 'I'.
Producers can also order individual device numbers, for example to replace missing Devices, however NLIS numbers cannot be duplicated. Typically the serial numbers that a producer needs can be supplied by varying the year of supply code or by using an alpha character at the commencement of the serial number sequence (see Question 17). Contact our Helpline on 1800 678 779 for assistance if you require replacement Devices with specific NLIS numbers.
Beef producers and dairy farmers, if they wish, can place a management tag in the left ear of their cattle, printed with numbers matching the serial numbers on the NLIS Devices they have used. The NLIS Device can then act as a 'back-up' if the management tag is lost.
Q19 What number is encoded in the microchip located within NLIS Breeder and Post-breeder Devices?
Microchips within NLIS Breeder and Post-breeder Devices are encoded with microchip numbers that are unique and unalterable. Microchip numbers, when read electronically with a suitable reader, have 16 characters in the following format.
- Manufacturer's code - 3 numerals
- Space - 1 character
- Individual chip number - 12 numerals
The following is an example of the microchip number that might be encoded on the microchip embedded in a Breeder or Post-breeder Device.
The microchips within the Devices supplied by the major manufacturers have the following prefixes:
(ninth character of the external NLIS Number)
|OS ID Australia||Y||937|
Q20 How are the NLIS number and the corresponding microchip number for each NLIS Breeder and Post-breeder Device linked?
Beef producers and dairy farmers applying for NLIS Devices must specify the property on which the Devices are to be used. An order is generated by DEDJTR to the nominated Device supplier specifying the PIC allocated to that property and a serial number sequence for the ordered Devices.
The Device supplier establishes a link between the NLIS number printed on each Device and the number encoded in the microchip. This information is uploaded to the NLIS database. Either the visually readable NLIS number printed on the external surface of the Device or the electronic microchip number can then be used to identify the tagged animal.
Q21 Can I obtain a list of the NLIS numbers and associated microchip numbers for the NLIS Devices I have, or for the NLIS identified cattle on my property?
To obtain a list of NLIS identified cattle registered on the NLIS database as residing on your property, open a database account by visiting www.nlis.com.au. Once you have an account, you can download from the NLIS database a list linking the NLIS Number on the external surface of the Breeder and Post-breeder Devices attached to your cattle and the associated microchip number for each.
For further information, contact the NLIS Database Helpline on 1800 654 743.
Q22 Can unused NLIS Devices be transferred for use on another property?
Producers who move from one property to another may apply to DEDJTR for permission to use unused Breeder and Post-breeder Devices on their new property. Producers seeking permission to transfer unused NLIS Devices should call our toll-free Helpline on 1800 678 779. European Union Cattle Accreditation Scheme (EUCAS) accredited producers also require Commonwealth Department of Agriculture permission to transfer unused NLIS Devices for use on a new property.
In other circumstances, Breeder and Post-breeder Devices purchased for use on one property must not be used to identify cattle located on a property with a different PIC.
NLIS Devices that are no longer needed must be returned to us. Producers wishing to return unused NLIS Devices should call our Helpline on 1800 678 779 and a courier bag will be supplied. There is no refund available for unused NLIS Devices.
The movement of cattle to the new property must be registered on the NLIS database within seven days (see Question 11).
Q23 How do I set up an NLIS database account?
You can open a database account simply by completing the database registration details. Within a day or two you will receive an account password. There is no cost associated with opening and using a database account.
Having an active database account allows you to:
- check which Devices are currently registered against your PIC
- register cattle movements
- check if cattle have been successfully transferred onto or off your PIC
- check on whether your cattle are 'Lifetime Traceable' or not
- access carcase feedback information on cattle you have bred or sold for slaughter.
Producers can also nominate someone to access the database on their behalf. This is known as 'third party access'. This person could be a friend who has access to the internet, a stock agent or a dairy herd improvement centre.
Producers need to complete an Access Authority Form if they would like someone to access their account on their behalf. This form can be found on the NLIS website or can be obtained by contacting the NLIS Database Helpline on 1800 654 743.
Q24 What does the term 'Lifetime Traceable' mean?
'Lifetime Traceable' is a status assigned to NLIS identified cattle where every property of residence in an animal's life has been registered on the NLIS database. A vendor can only tick the 'Lifetime Traceable' box on their NVD form where no gap exists in the movement history of each beast in the consignment as recorded on the NLIS database. In addition, the database must display a positive 'Lifetime Traceable' status against the NLIS device carried by each of the cattle.
Some important markets are beginning to show a preference for cattle that can be quickly and accurately traced back, through the use of the NLIS, to all properties on which they have resided. As a consequence, buyers for these markets are beginning to preferentially purchase cattle that are 'Lifetime Traceable'.
For this reason it is important, when purchasing cattle at a saleyard, to provide the selling agent with your PIC. You can ensure that the saleyard operator has accurately registered the movement of the cattle to your PIC by checking your account on the NLIS database a few days after the sale.
Q25 What is LPA and how does it relate to the NLIS?
Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) is the cattle industry's voluntary on-farm quality assurance program. Producers seeking LPA accreditation must agree to abide by basic animal production and record keeping requirements focusing on food safety issues. LPA will conduct independent audits of accredited producers to ensure the program's integrity is maintained.
Since 2004, LPA has issued the National Vendor Declaration (Cattle) and Waybill, in successive editions, available to provisionally accredited and fully accredited producers.
Producers can secure LPA accreditation by registering online at MLA's website, or by contacting the LPA Helpline on 1800 683 111.
Several NVDs are currently in use in Victoria. Commercial requirements in relation to whether particular NVD forms are acceptable or not may differ from buyer to buyer. Any false or misleading answers on a completed NVD may lead to prosecution and/or attract civil action by the purchaser.
In recent years, widespread industry uptake and use of NVDs has added a further dimension to Australia's system for ensuring the integrity of beef. The NVD is now an important component of arrangements for protecting and enhancing Australia's reputation as a supplier of safe wholesome beef and dairy products. The NLIS provides a mechanism for establishing a link between cattle and completed NVD forms. The NLIS and NVD are therefore complementary from a food safety and product integrity perspective. Livestock
Q26 What is the role of the NLIS database?
NLIS Limited operates the NLIS database on behalf of the cattle industry and State/Territory and Australian Governments.
The database's functions include registering the NLIS Breeder and Post-breeder Devices supplied to producers, Including the NLIS number and microchip number associated with each device, and supporting the national scheme for the production of cattle for EU markets. The database is being progressively used to record the movement of cattle from their property of birth to the properties of subsequent owners and finally to slaughter. Where applicable, disease, residue and market access information in relation to cattle producing properties and NLIS identified cattle is being registered on the database. The database is also used to facilitate the provision of carcase feedback to producers.
For further information on the NLIS database, visit www.nlis.com.au, contact the NLIS Database Helpline on 1800 654 743 or send an email to email@example.com.
Q27 What makes the NLIS superior to other livestock identification systems?
Many countries, including the United States, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Brazil and countries throughout the European Union, have or are about to introduce schemes for the permanent identification of cattle. These schemes in many instances require expensive and cumbersome paper-based systems for recording relevant information about specific animals, often with compromised accuracy. There are moves in a number of these countries to introduce electronic technology similar to that used as part of the NLIS.
The NLIS utilises devices that contain a microchip that can be read in a fraction of a second, enabling cattle to be quickly and accurately identified on-farm and in saleyards, feedlots and abattoirs. Victoria is leading the world in the implementation of this 'best practice' system for the identification and tracking of cattle.
All State Governments, in partnership with their local beef and dairy industries, have now agreed to fully implement NLIS for cattle.
Q28 How does the NLIS (Sheep & Goats) differ from the NLIS (Cattle)?
The sheep and goat industries, with the support of State and Commonwealth Governments, introduced the NLIS (Sheep & Goats) on 1 January 2006.
NLIS (Sheep & Goats) uses visually readable ear tags printed with a PIC, complemented by NVDs supplied by consignors, for identification and tracking purposes. Tags attached by breeders are colour coded for year of birth. The recommended tag colour for sheep and goats born in 2015 is sky blue. Pink Sheep Post-breeder Tags are used for the identification of sheep that have left their PIC of birth.
Victorian producers now have the opportunity to purchase electronic tags for use as part of the NLIS (Sheep & Goats) through DEDJTR. The use of electronic sheep tags is voluntary. For further information about electronic NLIS sheep tags, please refer to the DEDJTR publication "Your Guide to the use of Electronic Tags as part of the NLIS (Sheep & Goats)". There are two types of Electronic NLIS Sheep Tags:
- Electronic NLIS Sheep Breeder Tags – are yellow or year of birth colour and are used by the breeder to permanently identify sheep & goats before they leave their property of birth.
- Electronic NLIS Sheep Post-breeder Tags – are pink and can be used to permanently identify introduced sheep that are not already identified with an Electronic NLIS Sheep Breeder or Post-breeder Tag.
Electronic NLIS (Cattle) Devices must not be used to identify sheep or goats.
NLIS (Sheep & Goats) requirements, which commenced in Victoria on 1 January 2006, are summarised below:
- All properties running sheep or farmed goats must have a PIC. Sheep and goat producers who run cattle or have obtained Livestock Production Assurance NVD books most probably already have a PIC.
- Due to the high incidence of infection associated with tagging dairy goats, an exemption for goats of the Saanen, British Alpine, Toggenburg, Anglo Nubian, Melaan, or Australian Brown breeds is currently in place.
- Consignors must provide an NVD when dispatching sheep or goats of any age to a saleyard, abattoir or another property (with a different PIC).
- All sheep and farmed goats born after 1 January 2006 must be identified with a NLIS Sheep Breeder Tag before being dispatched to a saleyard or to another property.
- Consignors of sheep and farmed goats that are already tagged with an NLIS Sheep Tag must either record on their NVD all PICs printed on the NLIS Sheep Tags attached to consigned stock, or attach to each animal a pink NLIS Sheep Post-breeder Tag on which is printed the PIC of dispatch.
- Buyers of sheep and goats, whether purchased at a saleyard or private sale, must provide the selling agent, or seller, with the PIC of the destination property (including when purchased for slaughter at an abattoir).
- Saleyard operators must record mob-based movement details for all sheep and goats traded through their saleyard. Mob-based movement recording is the capture of core movement information on the NLIS database.
Read more about NLIS Sheep & Goats.
Attachment 1 – acronyms and terms
AAAAAAAA (or 8As)
Default PIC used to register cattle movements on the NLIS database.
A calf not accompanied by its dam that is less than 6 weeks of age.
Means any bull, cow, ox, steer, heifer, calf or buffalo.
Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources
European Union Cattle Accreditation Scheme. Australia's system for producing cattle in accordance with EU requirements. Administered by the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture under the Export Control Act.
Meat and Livestock Australia.
Unique number encoded on each microchip which, when read electronically, has 16 characters in the following format:
National Livestock Identification System
The national scheme operating throughout Australia for the identification and tracing of cattle, and operating under the auspices and direction of SAFEMEAT.
National Vendor Declaration (NVD)
Document completed by the vendor and accompanying consignments of cattle used to describe the cattle and specify their chemical treatment and exposure history. Acceptable versions* of the NVDs may include:
* From time to time, new NVD versions may be issued and the versions listed above may be withdrawn and no longer acceptable.
National database operated by NLIS Limited which holds the register of NLIS Devices, including microchip and associated NLIS numbers, transaction records, and residue, disease and market access status information for PICs and NLIS identified cattle. The database also facilitates the provision of carcase feedback to producers.
Ear Tag or rumen bolus/ear tag combination approved by the NLIS Standards Committee for use as part of the NLIS. NLIS Devices are stamped with the NLIS logo.
Registered Trade Mark  belonging to Meat and Livestock Australia Limited ACN 081 678 364, used to designate that a livestock identification device has been approved as an NLIS Device.
Unique number printed on NLIS Devices consisting of:
NLIS Post-Breeder Tag/Device
An orange NLIS approved device for the permanent identification of cattle that are no longer on their property of birth and that are not already identified with an NLIS Breeder or Post-Breeder Device.
A person, organisation or company directly engaged in the slaughter of livestock for human consumption.
A person, organisation or company actively engaged in the raising of cattle for subsequent sale, and includes dairy farmers and feedlot operators.
A parcel of land, consisting of one or more blocks within the one locality, operating as part of a livestock enterprise.
Property Identification Code (PIC)
The eight character alphanumeric code for a property as allocated by the relevant State or Territory authority. PICs are printed on transaction Devices and as the first eight characters of the number printed on NLIS devices. Formerly known as the 'tail tag number'.
Transaction tag attached to the tail of cattle and incorporating a ratchet action for securing the tag around the tail. Used for the short term identification of cattle.
A device administered orally to ruminant species which is designed to remain permanently in the rumen or reticulum. NLIS approved rumen boluses are supplied with a large ear tag (white for Breeder Devices and orange for Postbreeder Devices) on which is printed the NLIS number and either 'R' or 'Rumen' indicating that a bolus has been installed.
The person, organisation or company responsible for the operation of a saleyard, public scales operation or a public auction held on a farm or at a public venue.
A commission agent who buys and sells livestock by auction or private treaty.
Cattle not for immediate slaughter, including heifers, cows and bulls consigned for sale or purchased for breeding purposes, and cattle purchased from designated prime cattle sales for further grazing or feeding. Does not include bobby calves.
The rules governing the operation of the NLIS database, available at www.nlis.com.au
A tag applied to cattle typically for short term identification during transfer to a saleyard, abattoir or knackery. Transaction tags include transaction ear tags, ratchet and wrap-around tail tags, and bobby calf ear tags.
A person, organisation or company offering livestock for sale.