Your Guide to Victoria's Sheep and Goat Identification Legislation
On this page:
- Will the technology work?
- Industry support
- Transition timelines
- Why a phased approach?
- What is the transition package?
- When can I apply for funding?
- How do I apply for funding?
- NLIS (Sheep and Goats) requirements at a glace – As at 1 January 2017
- Commonly asked questions
- Acronyms and terms
The National Livestock Identification System for sheep and goats, known as the NLIS (Sheep & Goats), is Australia's system for the identification and tracking of sheep and goats for food safety, disease control, animal welfare and market access purposes.
The prosperity of Victoria's livestock industries relies on our ability to quickly, accurately and reliably track sheep and goats in a disease or food safety emergency, protecting existing and future market access opportunities.
Traceability of sheep and goats underpins Victoria's reputation for quality. Good traceability can help capitalise on market opportunities associated with food safety and provenance.
Victoria sheep and wool production is valued at over $2 billion, with products sold in profitable local and export markets. Implementing mandatory electronic identification of sheep and goats will provide trading partners with increased confidence in the safety and origin of Victorian products, protecting and enhancing access to these markets.
Electronic tagging allows the quick, accurate and effective tracking of sheep and goats in an animal disease emergency or food safety event. Movements will be recorded and uploaded to the NLIS database, providing accurate and timely information about the location of animals of interest. This system has proven effective for cattle in Australia, as well as in the European Union.
The sheep and goat industries, with the support of state and commonwealth governments, agreed to introduce the NLIS (Sheep & Goats) throughout Australia in 2006. Since then the system has been 'mob based', relying on visually readable ear tags and National Vendor Declaration (NVD) forms. The use of electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags has been voluntary.
However, there is evidence that the current visual tag and mob based NLIS (Sheep & Goats) system will not work effectively in an emergency, and that enhancements are not practical.
Will the technology work?
Yes. There has been significant research conducted in Victoria related to sheep and goat electronic identification (EID) technology and its use in the supply chain. EID technology currently exists and is functioning in Victoria for on-farm production and as part of abattoir systems.
Similar systems have been in place and operating effectively for several years in the European Union. A report received by the former Primary Industries Ministerial Council, now Agriculture Ministers Council (known as AGMIN), in 2012 stated that there are "no insurmountable technical barriers to the implementation of electronic identification in sheep and goats."
The Victorian Government is committed to working closely with all parts of the supply chain in implementing the new system.
Agriculture Victoria consulted with industry and key stakeholders on draft electronic NLIS (Sheep & Goats) standards and a transition package via 56 face-to-face meetings, involving more than 400 stakeholders. Agriculture Victoria also received 46 submissions.
Feedback from industry was considered carefully in preparing the final standards and transition package. The Victorian Sheep and Goats Identification Advisory Committee (SGIAC) and government developed the draft electronic NLIS (Sheep & Goats) standards for consultation with industry. Industry was consulted on the design of a transition package, which included funding.
The Victorian Sheep and Goats Identification Advisory Committee (SGIAC), a non-statutory committee established to provide advice on matters relating to NLIS (Sheep & Goats), supports the implementation of an electronic NLIS (Sheep & Goats).
SGIAC reviewed the national Decision Regulatory Impact Statement (DRIS) released in December 2014, and concluded that it is not cost effective for Victoria to implement an enhanced visual tag based system. SGIAC was also concerned that such a system would not meet nationally agreed traceability standards, and that enhancements are not practical or cost effective for Victoria. SGIAC concluded that only an electronic NLIS system will deliver the standards of traceability required to protect our livestock industries and underpin Victoria's reputation for quality. The Victorian Auditor-General's Office supported this finding.
As a consequence, on 24 August, 2016, Victoria's Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford, announced that Victoria will commence the introduction of an electronic tag based NLIS (Sheep & Goats) from 1 January, 2017.
Electronic NLIS (Sheep & Goats) standards describe the operation of the system, and a transition package is available to support industry move to the mandatory use of electronic ear tags.
- The transition starts with tagging of sheep and goats born on or after 1 January 2017. The system will be fully implemented by 1 January 2022.
- Scanning of electronically tagged sheep and goats starts from 1 July 2017 in saleyards, abattoirs and knackeries with this information uploaded to the NLIS database.
- From 31 December 2017, all electronically tagged sheep and goats must be scanned in abattoirs with this information uploaded to the NLIS database.
- From 31 March 2018, all electronically tagged sheep and goats must be scanned in saleyards with this information, along with the Property Identification Codes (PICs) of the vendor and purchaser, uploaded to the NLIS database.
- Property to property (P2P) movement recording will also be required from 31 March 2018.
The visual tag and mob based system, and the electronic system, will operate concurrently until 2022 when Victoria will have completed the transition to an electronic system. From 1 January 2022 all sheep, and all goats except those in exempt breeds, will need to be identified with an electronic tag before being moved off a PIC.
Why a phased approach?
- A phased approach allows time for all parts of the supply chain to adapt to the new system.
- Abattoirs and saleyards need time to undertake the required planning and design work before installing the required infrastructure. It will also allow time to develop and embed new operational procedures.
- The phasing also allows sufficient time for the flock to be progressively tagged, without requiring producers to re-tag older animals.
What is the transition package?
The transition package is a $17.06 million program of support, including funding, to assist industry transition to an electronic NLIS (Sheep & Goats). It includes:
- 'cost neutral' tags for producers for the first 12 months, at $0.35 for the lowest priced electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag for 2017 lambs and kids
- funding for:
- purchasing and installing infrastructure
- planning and design activities in saleyards and abattoirs
- assistance to implement operational procedures, and
- research and design to address an identified need or requirement within the supply chain
- access to technical support and consultants, and
- training and extension activities that will assist industry understand their regulatory obligations, support practice change and maximise the potential benefits associated with the technology.
When can I apply for funding?
Applications for funding opened on 14 November 2016. Closing dates apply. Refer to the transition package summary for details.
How do I apply for funding?
Detailed information on how to apply for funding and the process and criteria for assessing applications is provided in the transition package funding application guidelines.
NLIS (Sheep and Goats) requirements as at 1 January 2017 at a glance
- All sheep and most goat breeds born on or after 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 (Sheep) tags issued for use on one property cannot be used to tag animals located on a different property.
- NLIS (Cattle) tags must not be used to identify sheep and goats, and NLIS (Sheep) tags must not be used to identify cattle.
Read a full outline of tag types below, including NLIS (Sheep) Breeder tags and NLIS (Sheep) Post-breeder tags.
Property Identification Codes (PICs)
- All properties running sheep or goats, including properties where sheep and goats are kept as pets, must have a PIC.
- NLIS (Sheep) tags, whether visually readable or electronic, must have printed on them the PIC of the property on which they are used.
- Buyers of sheep and goats, whether purchased at a saleyard or through a private sale, must provide the selling agent or seller with the PIC of the next property to which the animals will be taken, including when purchased for slaughter at an abattoir.
National Vendor Declarations (NVDs)
- Consignors must provide an NVD when dispatching sheep or goats of any age to a saleyard, abattoir or another property (with a different PIC).
- Consignors of sheep and 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 the consigned stock, or attach a visually readable pink NLIS (Sheep) Post-breeder tag to each animal and record the PIC on these tags on their NVD.
- 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.
- Stock agents must provide store buyers of sheep and goats with a legible copy of the vendor's NVD or a post-sale summary within 2 working days. For sheep and goats purchased by a processor, this information must be provided by midnight on sale day.
- From 31 March 2018, Victorian saleyards must scan electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags and record movements on the NLIS database.
- Abattoirs must record mob-based movement details for all sheep and goats that they process. Mob-based movement recording is the capture of core movement information on the NLIS database.
- From 31 December 2017, Victorian abattoirs and knackeries must scan electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags and record that animals are 'deceased' on the NLIS database.
Sheep and goats from interstate
- Sheep and non-exempt goats identified with a visually readable NLIS (Sheep) tag can be introduced into Victoria for sale or slaughter provided they are identified in accordance with the requirements of their state of origin.
- Sheep and non-exempt goats introduced from interstate and born after 1 January 2017 must be electronically tagged if dispatched from a Victorian property after 1 January 2019.
Commonly asked questions
1. What are NLIS (Sheep) Tags?
There are two types of visually readable and electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags endorsed for the permanent identification of sheep and goats. They are known as NLIS (Sheep) Breeder tags and NLIS (Sheep) Post-Breeder tags. NLIS (Sheep) tags are used for the identification of both sheep and goats. There are no tags accredited specifically for use in goats.
NLIS (Sheep) Breeder tags are colour coded for 'year of birth' in line with the sheep industry's eight year tag colour rotation. Breeder tags are either visually readable or electronic and can only be used to identify sheep and goats that are still on their properties of birth. Breeders are strongly encouraged to use the correct 'year of birth' colour.
NLIS (Sheep) Breeder tags
|Tag colour||Tag example||Year of birth|
NLIS (Sheep) Post-breeder tags
NLIS (Sheep) Post-breeder tags are pink. They can be used to identify:
- sheep and goats no longer on the property on which they were born however if animals are already identified with an electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag, only a visually readable Post-breeder tag can be used
- introduced animals that have lost their original NLIS (Sheep) tag; and
- sheep still on their property of birth.
|Tag colour||Tag example|
2. Are there any tagging exemptions?
The identification of the following categories of sheep and goats with a visually readable or electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag is voluntary:
- Harvested rangeland (feral) goats introduced into Victoria in transit directly to an abattoir for immediate slaughter
- Saanen, British Alpine, Toggenburg, Anglo Nubian, Melaan and Australian Brown dairy goat breeds *
- The Elf breed of goats #, and
- Sheep and goats that are dead that are being consigned directly to a knackery.
* The ears of dairy goat breeds can become infected when tagged.
# The Elf breed of goat has rudimentary ears that are difficult to tag.
3. Won't there be a weakness in the system if in some circumstances sheep and goats do not need to be electronically tagged?
An electronic tag is a tool for identifying and tracking animals. It is one element of the electronic NLIS (Sheep & Goats) system that was introduced in Victoria commencing on 1 January 2017.
There are Work, Health and Safety and animal welfare issues associated with tagging rangeland goats. Provided such animals move in a closed supply chain from point of capture to slaughter, the biosecurity risks of rangeland goats not being tagged is minimal.
Dairy and miniature breeds are typically not sold in saleyards, or traded in large numbers. Provided vendors provide an NVD, and movements are recorded on the NLIS database, such animals should be traceable if the need arises.
Knackeries must keep records of the origin of the dead sheep and goats that they process.
4. Are there any restrictions on my use of NLIS (Sheep) tags?
Once an NLIS (Sheep) tag is attached to a sheep or goat it must not be removed until the animal is processed in an abattoir or knackery. The only exception is where the tag is an electronic tag and the transponder is unable to be read electronically. NLIS (Sheep) tags issued for use on one property cannot be used to identify sheep and goats located on another property (with a different PIC).
NLIS (Sheep) tags cannot be sold, given away or reused. NLIS (Cattle) tags must not be used to identify sheep and goats, and NLIS (Sheep) tags must not be used to identify cattle.
For two piece NLIS (Sheep) tags, only the pin supplied with the tags can be used. To maximise field retention, it is not permissible to use an alternative pin.
5. How does an electronic tag's transponder number relate to its visually readable number?
Electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags contain a transponder encoded with a unique unalterable number that can be read electronically using suitable reading equipment in a fraction of a second. A unique number, known as the NLIS number, is printed on each electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag. This number is different from the transponder number, and can be read visually.
The visually readable NLIS number, or NLIS ID, consists of the following components:
- the eight character PIC of the property on which the tag is to be used,
- 3 characters coding for:
- the manufacturer
- device type, e.g. whether the tag is a Breeder or Post-breeder tag
- year of supply (using the Australian Breedplan alpha character for that particular year), and
- a five digit serial number - the first 'digit' may be a letter, except 'I' or 'O'.
The following is an example of an NLIS number that might appear on an electronic NLIS (Sheep) Breeder tag issued for use on a Victorian property.
- 3ABCD123 X S H 00034
3ABCD123 - Property Identification Code
X - Manufacturer
S - Device type
K - Year of supply
00034 - Serial number
6. Are there differences in the NLIS (Sheep) tags that are available?
NLIS (Sheep) tags hold either conditional accreditation or full accreditation with NLIS Limited. Tags with conditional accreditation are still being assessed as part of a national three year field trial supervised by the NLIS Standards Committee, but are performing satisfactorily.
NLIS (Sheep) tags holding full accreditation with NLIS Limited have completed their three year field trial, and have met the requirements of the national standards for visually readable or electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags as the case may be.
There are one-piece and two-piece NLIS (Sheep) tags endorsed for the permanent identification of sheep and goats. Some one-piece electronic tags have the transponder embedded in the pin.
One-piece tag example
Two-piece tag example
7. How do I purchase NLIS (Sheep) ear tags?
To purchase electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags, visit www.agriculture.vic.gov.au/nlis. You will need to enter your PIC and the telephone number linked to this PIC to be able to place an order for NLIS tags. Payment is via credit card. Tags will typically be delivered within 10 working days.
Visually readable NLIS (Sheep) ear tags can be purchased directly from approved tag manufacturers and rural merchandise outlets.
8. Which ear do I use when tagging sheep or goats?
NLIS (Sheep) tags can be attached to either the right or left ear, although trials indicate that fewer tags are lost at shearing when placed in the left ear.
Always read carefully the instructions on the packaging containing your tags before commencing the tagging process, and use the correct applicator.
9. If I use electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags, do I need to record movements on the NLIS database?
For sheep and goats identified with electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags, purchasers can on a voluntary basis record the movement on the NLIS database. Producers can open an account on the NLIS database.
From 31 March 2018, producers receiving electronically identified sheep or goats directly from another property will need to register the movement on the NLIS database within 48 hours. If electronically identified sheep or goats are purchased in a saleyard, the selling agent working with the saleyard from 31 March 2018 will be required to scan the tags and register the movement. Victorian abattoirs will read the electronic tags on the sheep and goats that they slaughter from 31 December 2017 and register animals as 'deceased' on the NLIS database.
10. What is a Property Identification Code?
A Property Identification Code (PIC) is the eight character alphanumeric code allocated by Agriculture Victoria 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'. NSW and South Australian PICs commence with the prefix 'N' and 'S' respectively.
Livestock producers are required by law to have a PIC for the properties on which they run their livestock. If you need to apply for a PIC, visit the Agriculture Victoria website and click on the 'Apply for a PIC' link. If you are unsure of your PIC number please call Agriculture Victoria's NLIS Helpline on 1800 678 779 during business hours.
Before visiting the website ensure that you have 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 enterprise. Online applications do not need the rate assessment number. They just need to click on the parcel of land they own or lease using the map which will be displayed of their local area.
For the purposes of allocating PICs, a property is defined as a parcel of land, consisting of one or more blocks within the one locality, operating as part of a livestock enterprise. As long as land on which livestock are agisted or leased is in the same locality, i.e. in the same shire or close by in a neighbouring shire, such land can be covered by the 'home' PIC.
11. How do I apply electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags?
Electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags must be applied in accordance with the supplier's instructions. Tags may be attached to either the right ear or left ear of sheep and goats.
12. I have sheep/goats born before 1 January 2017– do they have to be identified with an electronic tag?
No. Sheep and goats born before 1 January 2017 can continue to be identified using a visual NLIS (Sheep) tag.
Sheep and non-exempt goats introduced from interstate and born after 1 January 2017 must be electronically tagged if dispatched from a Victorian property after 1 January 2019.
From 1 January 2022, all sheep and non-exempt goats must be identified with an electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag before leaving a Victorian property.
13. What equipment must a producer have?
A tag applicator and electronic tags are all that a producer needs to meet his/her legal obligations. Other equipment, such as a tag reader, may be used to assist with on-farm decision making, but the use of additional equipment is an individual business decision.
14. I keep sheep/goats on my property as pets - do I need to comply with the new rules?
Yes. The new rules apply to:
- persons owning and/or managing a property on which sheep or goats are bred, agisted, reared or kept
- persons responsible for the husbandry of sheep or goats
- persons owning and/or managing sheep or goats moving off or onto a property at any point of the animal's life for any reason
- persons owning sheep and goats kept as pets.
15. What are the tagging requirements for sheep and goats moving into Victoria from another state or territory?
Sheep and goats entering Victoria for sale or slaughter will need to be identified in accordance with the requirement of the state from which they are sourced, which in the short and medium term is likely to continue to be via the use of a visually readable tag and an accompanying NVD form.
16. What are the tagging requirements for sheep and goats moving from Victoria to another state or territory?
Producers consigning sheep or non-exempt goats to other states will need to identify them in accordance with Victorian legislation. Unless an exemption applies, sheep and goats born on or after 1 January 2017 being dispatched to an interstate location must be identified with an electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag. These arrangements will ensure that Victorian saleyards and processors are not disadvantaged by producers choosing to consign their animals to other states during Victoria's transition to an electronic system.
17. Can I order NLIS (Sheep) tags with serial numbers, or printed with my property name, along with my PIC?
Depending on the style of tag and the options offered by the manufacturer, serial numbers and/or property names can be printed on the opposite side of the NLIS (Sheep) tag to your PIC and the NLIS logo.
18. Are National Vendor Declarations (NVDs) required when selling or giving away my sheep or goats?
Consignors must provide an NVD when dispatching sheep or goats of any age to a saleyard, abattoir, selling or giving them away, or moving them to another property (with a different PIC).
Several NVD editions are currently being used by producers trading sheep and goats, including the Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) NVD/Waybill. All are acceptable from the perspective of Victorian NLIS (Sheep and Goats) legislation, however many buyers are only interested in purchasing sheep and goats accompanied by a current LPA NVD/Waybill.
LPA is the livestock 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 conducts independent audits of accredited producers to ensure that the program's integrity is maintained.
Any false or misleading answers on a completed NVD may lead to prosecution and/or attract civil action by the purchaser.
19. Do I have to record mob based movement information for sheep or goats I have purchased privately?
Producers receiving sheep and goats that are identified with a visually readable NLIS (Sheep) tag directly from another producer can if they wish register a record of the mob based movement on the NLIS database. Recording mob based movements on the NLIS database for 'property to property' movements is currently voluntary. P2P movement recording will be required from 31st March 2018.
20. Do I have to provide my PIC when I buy sheep/goats?
Yes. Legislation introduced in August 2009 requires all buyers of sheep and goats to provide the PIC of the destination property, including sheep and goats destined for slaughter at an abattoir.
21. Do sheep and goats need to be tagged prior to being dispatched to a knackery?
Provided they are dead, sheep and goats that are dispatched to or collected by a knackery are not required to have an NLIS (Sheep) tag. Knackeries do, however, need to keep auditable records of the source of the sheep and goats that they process.
22. What happens if sheep or goats lose their NLIS (Sheep) tags?
If sheep or goats have lost their NLIS (Sheep) tag, the missing tags must be replaced before the animals leave the property on which they are located. Animals born after 1 January 2017 must be identified with an electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag.
If you have bred the sheep or goats on that property, you may attach another NLIS (Sheep) Breeder tag or a pink NLIS (Sheep) Post-breeder tag on which is printed your PIC. Introduced sheep and goats must be identified with an NLIS (Sheep) Post-breeder tag.
23. What do I do if an animal arrives at my property without an NLIS (Sheep) tag?
If a sheep or goat arrives at your property without an NLIS tag, you must tag the animal with a pink NLIS (Sheep) Post-breeder tag before it leaves your property. If the animal is likely to have been born on or after 1 January 2017, an electronic Post-breeder tag must be used.
24. Can I use a second NLIS (Sheep) tag if sheep or goats already have an NLIS (Sheep) tag attached by a previous owner?
Consigners of sheep and goats that are already tagged with an NLIS (Sheep) tag can either record on their NVD all PICs printed on the NLIS (Sheep) tags attached to the animals, or attach a pink NLIS (Sheep) Post-breeder tag printed with the PIC of the property on which the tags are to be used to each animal.
If an electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag is already attached to an animal do not apply a second electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag. A visual Post-breeder NLIS tag may be applied to sheep which have been previously identified with an electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag for non-vendor-bred sheep.
Once scanning of electronic tags on sheep in Victorian saleyards and abattoirs becomes routine, the need for vendors to record tag PICs on NVDs will be reviewed.
25. Can I use left over NLIS Sheep Breeder tags that are one of the previous year's recommended colours?
Yes, but the use of the correct 'year of birth' colour is recommended. There is the potential for price discounting when sheep are sold if the wrong 'year of birth' colour is used.
26. What arrangements apply to OJD vaccinated sheep?
Producers who choose to vaccinate their flocks against ovine Johne's disease (OJD) are required to identify all vaccinates with an NLIS (Sheep) tag. When sheep are vaccinated against OJD, a capital "V" in a circle must be printed on the ear tag. Electronic tags with this symbol printed on them can be ordered online from Agriculture Victoria.
27. What arrangements apply to the identification of store terminal lambs from OJD affected properties?
Store terminal (crossbred) lambs from OJD affected flocks may be sold for finishing on another property. They may be identified with an NLIS (Sheep) Tag with a capital "T" in a circle.
The 'T' in a circle symbol indicates the sheep are terminal lambs that will be slaughtered prior to cutting their first two permanent teeth. 'T' tags are not mandatory for the movement of terminal lambs within Victoria but may be required to move them interstate. If you wish to have the option of selling terminal lambs into another state (for fattening on another property prior to slaughter), we recommend placing the 'T' symbol on their tags. This symbol does not mean the sheep necessarily come from an infected flock.
28. Do I have to record all NLIS (Sheep) tag PICs on my NVD if I am selling sheep or goats 'over the hooks'?
For 'over the hooks' sales, the PICs printed on all NLIS (Sheep) tags on sheep or goats in the consignment must be included on the NVD, as well as the PIC of the property from which the livestock are consigned. Alternatively an NLIS (Sheep) Post-Breeder tag, printed with the PIC of the consigning property, can be attached to each animal. This PIC will be the PIC of dispatch recorded on the accompanying NVD.
Please note that an animal can only be identified with one electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag.
29. If an introduced sheep or domesticated goat has more than one NLIS (Sheep) tag, which one do I record on my NVD?
You have the choice of recording on your NVD all of the PICs printed on the NLIS (Sheep) tags attached to your sheep or goats, or alternatively you can attach a pink NLIS (Sheep) Post-breeder tag on which is printed the PIC of the property from which the sheep or goats are to be dispatched.
If the introduced sheep are identified with electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags, the Post-breeder tags used must be visually readable, not electronic.
Once scanning of electronic tags on sheep in Victorian saleyards and abattoirs becomes routine, the need for vendors to record tag PICs on NVDs will be reviewed.
30. What do I do if my lambs are born on an agistment or lease property that has a different PIC to my home property?
Only NLIS (Sheep) tags with the PIC of the agistment property can be used for those lambs born on that property. Agriculture Victoria allows a property to have two PICs if more than one producer is managing livestock on the property. If the agistment property is registered with Agriculture Victoria under the PIC of the home property, then the person agisting the livestock can use their own NLIS (Sheep) tags, otherwise they need to use the NLIS (Sheep) tags printed with the PIC of the agistment property.
31. Do I need to tag sheep with an NLIS (Sheep) Tag when attending shows?
Yes. All sheep and most goat breeds need to have an NLIS (Sheep) tag before leaving their property of residence to attend an agricultural show. If animals were born on or after 1 January 2017, the tag used must be an electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag.
From 31 March 2018, those responsible for agricultural shows must ensure that the electronic tags on the sheep and goats being exhibited are scanned and reported to the NLIS database.
32. Can I sell a group of sheep or goats with some having visually readable NLIS (Sheep) tags and others having electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags?
Yes, however animals born on or after 1 January 2017 need to be identified with an electronic tag. If there are sheep or goats in a consignment that were born in Victoria before 1 January 2017 and are tagged with visually readable tags, they can be sold in mobs containing sheep or goats with electronic tags
There will be many occasions when producers will sell mobs consisting of a mixture of electronic tagged and non-electronic tagged sheep and goats. Examples include mobs consisting of ewes and their lambs, and mobs of prime lambs consisting of Victorian and interstate sourced lambs.
33. For a consignment that contains animals from a variety of sources, do I need to record on my NVD the number of animals identified with NLIS (Sheep) tags printed with a particular PIC?
No, only the PICs need to be recorded on your NVD, not the number of sheep or goats carrying tags printed with a particular PIC.
34. Am I required to obtain an NVD form from the seller or agent when I buy sheep and goats?
Yes. For traceability it is crucial to obtain the information provided on movement documentation such as an NVD or waybill. Stock agents are required to provide a copy of the consignor's NVD or alternatively a post-sale summary within two days of the purchase of store and breeding stock. The information that must be recorded on the document includes the PIC of the property from which the animals were dispatched, the date of the movement, the number and type of animals, and the PICs printed on all of the NLIS (Sheep) tags attached to animals in the consignment.
NVDs for purchased sheep should be retained for seven years.
35. What happens if a consignment, or part consignment, of sheep or goats arrive at the saleyard without NLIS (Sheep) tags?
The person responsible for dispatching sheep or goats, apart from exempt breeds, without an NLIS (Sheep) tag to a Victorian saleyard has committed an offence under the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994, and may be fined.
It is likely that selling agents will in the future be required to attach saleyard Post-Breeder tags before the sheep leave the saleyard at the vendor's expense.
36. What happens if sheep or goats arrive at a saleyard without an NVD or with an incomplete NVD?
The person responsible for dispatching sheep or domesticated goats to a Victorian saleyard without a correctly completed NVD has committed an offence under the Livestock Disease Control Act 1994, and may be fined.
The selling agent should advise potential buyers that an NVD has not been provided, has not been completed in full or contains incorrect information.
37. Why do electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags contain different technology from the tags currently being introduced to identify wool bales?
Many transponder technologies have been trialed in Australia since the commencement of the NLIS (Cattle) in the late 1990s, including the ultra-high frequency (UHF) technology now being used for wool bale identification. To date UHF technology has not been shown to work reliably at every point in the supply chain.
Electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags contain low frequency ISO 11784/11785 compliant half duplex (HDX) transponders. The same technology is used in NLIS (Cattle) tags. Readers and software used for the recording of NLIS (Cattle) tags can be used to read and record electronic NLIS (Sheep) ear tags.
There has also been considerable investment in recent years across all sectors in the voluntary use of electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags, reflecting industry's confidence in the technology.
The NLIS Standards Committee is responsible for assessing technologies that could be used for livestock identification purposes, as they become available. If industry participants have evidence based on operational experience of the suitability of affordable alternative technologies for livestock identification purposes, they should contact the NLIS Standards Committee via firstname.lastname@example.org.
38. When will Victorian producers need to report Property to Property (P2P) movements?
A property to property (P2P) movement occurs when sheep or goats are dispatched from a farm and are taken directly to another farm.
Producers will be required to register P2P movements on the NLIS database from 31 March 2018. The person receiving sheep or goats born after 1 January 2017 directly from another property must notify the NLIS database of their arrival within 48 hours, or before they next move, whichever is the sooner. The following information must be supplied:
- electronically recorded transponder number associated with the tag identifying each animal
- date of movement
- number of animals received
- PIC of the property where the sheep or goats were last kept
- PIC of the property to which the sheep or goats were consigned, and
- NVD serial number.
Any sheep or goat producer who receives animals directly from another property can notify the database by:
- scanning the electronic tags using a tag reader, then opening a database account and reporting the arrival of the sheep or goats, or
- engaging a stock agent, saleyard operator, scanning contractor or livestock transporter on a fee for service basis, to scan the sheep or goats and notify the NLIS database.
There are no fees associated with registering movements on the NLIS database. Readers that are able to read NLIS (Cattle) tags will also read electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags.
39. I transport sheep and goats. What does this mean for me?
Transporters must ensure the sheep and goats that they transport are identified with an NLIS (Sheep) tag. For animals born after 1 January 2017, the tag used must be an electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag.
There is no obligation on transporters to scan tags on the animals that they handle.
Transporters will be consulted as the new system is introduced. Many transporters have readers because they are already servicing cattle producers.
40. Are there benefits to my business or is this just another extra cost?
The adoption of electronic tagging has the potential to drive innovation in the processing sector and on the properties of producers willing to use the technology for flock management and performance recording purposes.
Electronic identification simplifies the recording of production related information leading to better on-farm decision making. By minimising the need to physically handle sheep and goats during the reading of tags, stress and the risk of injury to animals and staff at all points in the supply chain is reduced.
Electronic identification technology can provide producers with the opportunity to better manage their flocks and secure a competitive advantage for Victoria's sheep meat industry in domestic and export markets.
44. Where can I get more information about the NLIS (Sheep)
For further information, email your questions to EID.email@example.com, call the Agriculture Victoria toll-free Helpline on 1800 678 779 during office hours, or visit the Agriculture Victoria website.
Acronyms and terms
Agriculture Victoria: A division of the Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources.
Consignment: A group of animals dispatched for sale.
Consignor: A person, organisation or company offering livestock for sale.
Department (DEDJTR): Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources.
Livestock Production Assurance (LPA): Livestock Production Assurance is the livestock industry's voluntary on-farm quality assurance program.
MLA: Meat and Livestock Australia.
Movement: Any movement between two properties with different PICs.
Movement information: Date of sale, number of sheep/goats, NVD serial number, PIC of the place of sale, 'FROM PIC','TO PIC', PICs on tags of previous owners for non-vendor bred sheep or goats.
Mob Based Kill information: Kill Date, Processor PIC, number of head, source (saleyard or direct), 'FROM PIC', NVD serial number.
Mob Based Movement Recording: Recording of movement information for sheep and goats on the NLIS database.
NLIS Database: National database operated by NLIS Ltd which holds the register of electronic NLIS (Sheep) and NLIS (Cattle) tags, and also registers mob based movement of sheep and goats, and movements involving electronically tagged cattle, sheep and goats.
NLIS Limited: A wholly owned subsidiary company of Meat & Livestock Australia, that manages the NLIS database and operates the NLIS database helpdesk.
National Livestock Identification System (Sheep & Goats): The NLIS (Sheep & Goats) is the national system operating throughout Australia for the identification and tracking of sheep and goats.
National Vendor Declaration (NVD): Document completed by the vendor and accompanying consignments of sheep and domesticated goats, used to describe the sheep and goats and specify their chemical treatment and exposure history.
* From time to time, new NVD versions may be issued and older versions may be withdrawn by LPA or be no longer acceptable to buyers.
NLIS (Sheep) Breeder tag: 'Year of birth' colour coded electronic or visually readable tag used to identify sheep and goats that are still on their property of birth.
NLIS (Sheep) Post-breeder tag: NLIS (Sheep) Post-breeder tags are pink in colour, and are used to identify sheep and goats that are no longer on the property on which they were born, introduced animals that have lost their original Breeder tag and animals that are still on their property of birth.
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 tag.
'Over the Hooks': Where sheep and goats are sent directly to an abattoir and paid for on a weight and grade basis post-slaughter.
Producer: A person, organisation or company actively engaged in the raising of sheep or goats for subsequent sale, and includes feedlot operators.
Property: 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.
Stock agent: A commission agent who buys and sells livestock by auction or private treaty.
Vendor: A person, organisation or company offering livestock for sale.