How to tag sheep using electronic NLIS tags
- All sheep and most goat breeds born from 1 January 2017 must be identified with an electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag before being consigned to a saleyard, abattoir, agricultural show or to another property in Victoria or elsewhere in Australia.
- All sheep and most goat breeds born before 1 January 2017 must be identified with either a visually readable or an electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag before being consigned to a saleyard, abattoir, agricultural show or to another property.
- If sheep or goats are already identified with an electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag, do not attach a second electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag.
- Tagging is optional for rangeland (feral) goats destined for immediate slaughter, and for the Saanen, British Alpine, Toggenburg, Anglo Nubian, Melaan, Australian Brown and Elf breeds of goat.
- NLIS (Sheep) tags must not be removed from purchased sheep and goats.
- NLIS (Cattle) tags must not be used to identify sheep and goats, and NLIS (Sheep) tags must not be used to identify cattle.
- Sheep can be successfully tagged with electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags at any age. Marking or weaning are good times to tag your sheep.
- You must ensure that you use the correct applicator that is compatible with the brand of tag that you have ordered. If an incorrect applicator is used, tag retention will be compromised and the microchip in the tag may be damaged. To check if your applicator is compatible, visit www.vic.gov.au/nlis and click on the 'applicator' page on the far right of the second page, or contact the manufacturer of the tag. Follow the instructions that accompanied your applicator.
- Ensure that the animal is appropriately restrained and that the applicator is clean.
- Once the applicator is loaded, dip both parts of the tag into an antiseptic or disinfectant solution then tag the animal in the inner portion of the ear. The component of the tag containing the microchip must be placed on the inside of the ear.
- For the Allflex RapID tag and the Leader Products Multipin tag, the microchip is embedded in the pin. For these tag brands, the pin must pierce the ear from the back to the front/inside of the ear.
- Trials conducted by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) have demonstrated that up to three times as many tags are lost from the right ear of sheep compared to the left ear, due to shearing. To maximise tag retention, it is preferable that sheep be tagged in the left (near-side) ear.
Instructions for application of one-piece electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags
Before tagging your sheep, carefully read the instructions accompanying the one piece tag pack. Applying tags correctly first time avoids the cost and inconvenience of re-tagging.
You must use an applicator that is designed to apply the tags that you have purchased. A suitable applicator can be purchased when you order your tags.
If an incorrect applicator is used, tag retention will be compromised.
Some tag brands are delivered in strips of sequentially numbered tags. Remove a tag from the strip and load the tag in the applicator, making sure each end clicks into place.
Dip the jaws of the applicator holding the tag into antiseptic or disinfectant solution prepared at the correct dilution. Do not immerse the whole applicator.
Hold the sheep securely. In young lambs, place the tag on the upper edge of the ear (this is the strongest edge), one third from the base and two thirds from the tip.
For older sheep it may be necessary to apply the tag to the back of the ear if the top is too thick, but allow room for growth if the animal is still young.
Always place the portion of the tag containing the microchip on the inside of the ear. For this to occur, the pin must always be inserted from the upper side of the ear.
Avoid piercing the ridge of cartilage along the top of the ear as this may deform the ear and may lead to infection. Do not apply beyond the top cartilage.
When tagging sheep remember that the ear will grow. For this reason, when tagging young lambs, leave 4–5mm of space between the loop of the tag and the ear. If attaching tags to the back of the ear, more room may be needed.
Instructions for application of two-piece electronic NLIS (sheep) tags
Ensure that the black insert is in place in the jaws of the applicator.
For some tag brands, the female component of the NLIS (Sheep) tag has a lump on its printed face.
To load, depress spring clip and insert female tag, holding the lump between thumb and forefinger. Position the tag so the lump faces out of the open end of the applicator. Failure to do so may result in damage to the electronic tag.
Slip male tag completely onto application pin.
Dip jaws of applicator holding tag into antiseptic or disinfectant solution.
Important: The correct applicator must be used when applying NLIS ear tags.
With the correct position located, apply the tag firmly, always with the male tag entering from the back (outside) of the ear. The tag should be attached in the centre of the inside third of the ear.
Use NLIS (Sheep) breeder tags for sheep you have bred. Use pink post-breeder tags for sheep you have purchased. If sheep are already identified with an electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag, do not attach a second electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag. The electronic breeder/post-breeder tag must be applied as per the illustration below.
Tag has snapped at the neck
The tag snagged and broke to avoid ripping the animal's ear.This is a design feature of the tag to reduce injury to the animal. Tags can become snagged on fences, gates and feed bins. Snagging is more likely to occur if tags are placed towards the end of the ear.
Retag the animal with an NLIS (Sheep) breeder tag if it is still on its property of birth, or with a pink post-breeder tag if it is an introduced animal.
Ear has ripped
The tag has become snagged and has ripped the ear when the animal has moved its head.
This is more likely to occur in younger animals, and if tags have not been applied correctly.
Retag the animal placing the new tag closer to the head and away from the torn section of the ear.
The intact tag (male and female portions joined together) has been lost from the animal.
The tag has become snagged and the pin has pulled through the hole. The size of the hole increases if the wound created by the pin becomes infected. Placing the tag in disinfectant solution prior to application minimises the risk of infection.
Retag the animal avoiding the hole left by the lost tag.
Microchip within the tag does not work after application
The component of the tag containing the microchip has a lump on its printed face.The tag must be placed in the applicator so that the lump faces out of the open end of the applicator. If not, the microchip may be damaged during the application. On rare occasions, the microchip may be smashed after application.
Electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags with non-functioning microchips may be removed provided they are immediately replaced with an electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag. For introduced sheep, a pink NLIS (Sheep) post-breeder tag must be used.
Tag is lost after application because the pin and female components have separated
The pin has not been successfully inserted into the female component of the tag during application. This can occur if insufficient pressure is placed on the handles of the applicator during tag attachment. It can also occur if the correct applicator is not used, or if the applicator is not fitted with the correct pin.The correct applicator for electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags supplied by Allflex Australia is known as the Allflex Red Universal Applicator. Applicators and spare Red Universal Pins are available from rural merchandise outlets.
Check that you have the correct applicator and pin. Retag the animal.