NLIS sheep and goats

The National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) for sheep and goats, known as the NLIS (Sheep & Goats), is Australia’s system for identifying and tracking sheep and goats for disease control, food safety and market access purposes.

All sheep and goat producers and keepers must ensure:

  • the land on which their animals are kept has a Property Identification Code (PIC)
  • all sheep and non-exempt goats are identified with an NLIS (Sheep) ear tag before leaving their property
  • the arrival of sheep or goats directly from another property is registered within two days on the NLIS database
  • a National Vendor Declaration (NVD) form or similar movement document is supplied to the person receiving their animals.

Transition to electronic identification of sheep and goats

From 1 January 2022 all sheep and non-exempt goats, regardless of age, must be identified with an electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag before leaving a Victorian property.

Identification requirements for sheep and goats are changing. From 1 January 2022, every sheep and non-exempt goat should be tagged with a National Livestock Identification System electronic identification tag before leaving your property.

This system benefits you, your animals and community by improving traceability of animals in the event of a disease outbreak and helps safeguard Victoria’s agricultural industry.

For more information visit agriculture.vic.gov.au/sheepEID or call 1800 678 779.

NLIS (Sheep & Goats) Standards

The NLIS (Sheep & Goats) Standards 2022 provide further information about keeping and trading sheep and goats in Victoria.

Victorian implementation of electronic identification sheep and goats

Learn how electronic identification of sheep and goats is streamlining processes in the livestock industry and providing strong traceability systems.

Victoria's livestock industries are essential to our rural and regional communities. Their future relies on strong traceability systems providing confidence to consumers both here and overseas.

Victoria began implementing electronic identification of sheep and goats from 2017. At that time, the value of livestock processed was 4.7 billion dollars. Victoria's sheep and goat industries, through strong collaboration with government, have played a significant role in shaping the electronic National Livestock Identification System.

This has led to innovation and development of tailor-made software, hardware and data processing technologies. The whole supply chain is now capable of collecting, recording and analysing electronic identification data.

Sheepmeat producers and wool growers are increasingly adopting electronic NLIS technology for flock management and performance recording purposes.

Charley Defegely: 'I'm Charlie DeFegely and our property’s Quamby and it's situated at Dobie, which is just east of Ararat. And we've got a prime lamb flock running predominantly composite ewes and we put eID tags in about 10 years ago. So all our flock now have eID tags. We did that because we are individually measuring ewes for fleece weight measurement. EID works really well if you're taking measurements because, firstly, it stops a lot of mistakes in transposing figures. So, that element of error was completely cut out and I think that anyone in the wool industry wanting to improve either their fleece weights or microns it would be a no-brainer to use it. The more and more we use it, the better off it'll be.'

Where producers use the capabilities of electronic data on-farm, the benefits far outweigh the small additional cost of the tag.

The on-farm data capture allows producers to make informed decisions around market specifications and productivity. The software used in Victorian saleyards connects to bluetooth and wifi, which has been transformational. Next-generation high-flow readers developed by industry with government funding have led to efficient scanning.

'As a saleyard, once agents enter in the data onto their tablets when vendors are booked in I know how many sheep are actually in the saleyards, what vendors are in what pens. People were quite happy with the way that there was no balking through our three-way draft system.'

'All our data entry, our buyers and that is done on the fall of the hammer, put into the tablets that we have assembled there and that's fed straight through our office. There was plenty of times when the paper system we had in place was hard to follow, hard to read, got lost or dirty. The improvements and efficiencies have been massive in our business.'

'With our software, I can go down to the delivery yards and scan one animal and I know who, what abattoir or end user that is. If I have anything that's getting near their curfew time for them to be in the saleyards I can actually, again, use my tablet and software so then I can contact the livestock transporters and they'll let me know if they're leaving, they’ve forgotten them and then I can put them out of the paddock.'

'The electronic ID system changed how we do things in the yards and how much more advanced we are in the saleyards program now. So, when you do get to the office the end of the day our reconciliation is 100 per cent right.'

At the point the animal is processed the tag is scanned and electronic data is linked to the carcass allowing for individual carcass data to be fed back to the producer for commercial benefit and to the processor to better manage input costs. We believe it really gives Victoria, Victorian producers and Victorian processors the ability to have that extra amount of information that they can provide to our customers.

'So, we think that this system really does enhance our traceability capabilities. Prior to that, it was all in batches or all mob-based, whereas now it's an individual carcase. So, we can actually trace that individual carcass all the way through.

Through ongoing collaboration and innovation between government and industry electronic traceability provides verified and accurate whole-of-life data.

The contributions and combined efforts through the livestock industry will continue to build on and shape the future of sheep and goat production.

'We realised that it was coming in. We embraced it. Everything just seemed to roll seamlessly through and the efficiencies and the savings in our business were great and more than we ever thought they would be. We would never go back the old way now.'

Property Identification Codes (PICs)

Under Victorian law, individuals must have a PIC for properties, including a residential property, on which sheep or goats are or will be kept.

PICs are issued by Agriculture Victoria and are free of charge.

For more information see property identification codes.

To apply for or amend a pic online, visit the Property Identification codes website.

NLIS (Sheep) tags

All sheep and non-exempt goats, regardless of age, must be identified with an electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag before being dispatched from a Victorian property.

There are two types of electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags available:

  • breeder tags
  • post-breeder tags.

NLIS (Sheep) breeder tags

NLIS (Sheep) breeder tags are colour-coded to match industry’s ‘year of birth’ tag colour system and are used to permanently identify sheep and goats before they leave their property of birth.

NLIS (Sheep) post-breeder tags

NLIS (Sheep) post-breeder tags are pink and are used to permanently identify introduced sheep and goats not already identified with an electronic tag, or that have lost their original tag.

For more information about the sheep and goat year of birth tag colour system, go to the Integrity Systems web page.

It is very important that the correct NLIS tag is used. If not, it will falsely indicate the breeding and life history of an animal.

Interstate animals

All sheep and non-exempt goats introduced from interstate must be tagged with an electronic NLIS (Sheep) pink post-breeder tag before being dispatched from a Victorian property, unless they are already tagged with an electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag.

Sheep and goats dispatched from an interstate property and entering Victoria must be identified in accordance with the legal requirements of the jurisdiction from which they were dispatched.

Tagging requirements

  • NLIS (Sheep) tags can be attached to either ear, though trials indicate that fewer tags are lost at shearing when placed in the left ear.
  • Only one electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag must be present on a sheep or goat at any time.
  • NLIS (Sheep) tags purchased for use on one property must not be applied to sheep or goats located on another property, unless the parcel of land is linked to the PIC. Visit the Property Identification Codes website to amend your PIC details.
  • NLIS (Sheep) tags must not be used to identify any other livestock species (such as cattle, alpacas and pigs).
  • NLIS (Sheep) tags must not be removed unless the device is damaged and cannot be read electronically.
  • It is not a legal requirement in Victoria to use the correct ‘year of birth’ coloured breeder tags, but it is encouraged.

How to tag your sheep and goats

Apply NLIS (Sheep) tags according to the manufacturer's instruction with the manufacturer’s recommended applicator

  • If an incorrect applicator is used, tags may fall out and the microchip in the tag may be damaged.

Image of sheep ear. Incorrect when applied to the top corner of the ear, bottom middle or top middle

Image of sheep showing the correct placement of the tag. This is the middle of the ear.

  • Applying tags correctly the first time avoids the cost and inconvenience of re-tagging.

Goats

Goat producers must use accredited NLIS (Sheep) tags and must specify when placing orders that the tags they are purchasing will be used to identify goats.

Tagging using an NLIS (Sheep) tag is optional for the following goat breeds:

  • Miniature goats
  • Saanen
  • British Alpine
  • Toggenburg
  • Anglo Nubian
  • Melaan
  • Australian Brown
  • Alpine
  • LaMancha
  • Nigerian Dwarf

Tagging using an NLIS (Sheep) tag is also optional for:

  • slink lambs and kids that are being consigned directly to a knackery
  • wild harvested (feral) goats destined for immediate slaughter.

When exempt goat breeds are not identified with an NLIS (Sheep) tag and are moved, a movement document must be completed and supplied to the receiver. The receiver must also record the movement of the goats on the NLIS database as a mob-based movement within two days of their arrival.

Order National Livestock Identification (NLIS) Tags from Agriculture Victoria

Call our NLIS helpline on 1800 678 779 between 9am and 4.30pm Monday to Friday, submit a paper application form or order online.

Order early as delivery delays may be experienced by Australia Post due to COVID-19. Parcel tracking information will be emailed to your once your order is manufactured.

Order NLIS tags online

Other ways to Order NLIS tags

You can also download an application form, print, complete and return to Agriculture Victoria by post (do not email these forms).

For more information see livestock identification.

Recording sheep and goat movements

When sheep and goats are moved between properties with different PICs, the person receiving the sheep or goats is required to register the movement on the NLIS database.

A property-to-property transfer (often called a P2P movement) includes:

  • private sales of sheep and goats
  • sheep or goats being agisted or lent
  • sheep or goats traded through online selling platforms such as AuctionsPlus, Gumtree and Facebook.

In these situations, the buyer or receiver of the stock is responsible for ensuring the movement on the NLIS database is completed.

A person may engage a third party to scan tags and report movements to the NLIS database, e.g. a stock agent, transporter or other service provider. However, the buyer/receiver is still required to ensure the transfer is completed on their behalf.

The NLIS database movement record must be completed:

  • within two days of the sheep or goats arriving at the new property, or
  • before the animals leave the property if within two days.

When sheep or goats are bought, sold or moved through a saleyard, public auction conducted on-farm or sold directly to an abattoir or knackery, it is the responsibility of the person operating that business to notify the database.

Information on the movement of cattle, sheep and goats throughout Australia is stored on the NLIS database.

To open an NLIS database account, visit the NLIS website. For assistance and further information about the operation of the NLIS database, call the NLIS database helpline on 1800 654 743 during business hours.

For more information see property to property movements of livestock.

Exempt goat breeds movement requirements

Goat breeds that are exempt from electronic NLIS tagging and are not electronically NLIS tagged must be transferred on the NLIS database by completing a mob-based movement (MBM) transfer. All other movement and document requirements for sheep and goats also apply.

More information about the MBM transfer can be found on the Integrity Systems website.

Sheep and goats on agistment

Sheep and non-exempt goats that are moving to an agistment property must be identified with an electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag.

Options for sheep and goats on agistment:

  1. PICs are allocated to a parcel of land that may consist of more than one block within the one locality, operating as part of one livestock enterprise. Provided the land on which the livestock are agisted and leased is in the same locality (in the same shire or in a neighbouring shire), then both blocks of land can be covered by a 'home' PIC.

    Go to the Application for PIC system to add or remove parcels of land.

  2. If the agistment property operates under a different PIC, the movement of sheep and goats must be recorded on the NLIS database within two days and an NVD must be generated for each movement to and from the agistment property.

Sheep and non-exempt goats born on an agistment property must be identified with an electronic NLIS (Sheep) breeder tag issued for use on that property.

Movement documentation

A movement document such as a Livestock Production Assurance National Vendor Declaration (LPA NVD) or similar document must be completed before sheep or goats are:

  • dispatched to a saleyard
  • dispatched to an abattoir
  • dispatched to a property with a different PIC
  • given away or sold as pets.

The movement document must be provided to the receiver or new owner before the sheep or goats arrive or upon arrival.

Movement documents are not required:

  • for dead livestock being sent for processing in a knackery
  • for livestock being consigned to an agricultural show or exhibition (provided the livestock will be returned to the exhibitor's property immediately after the event).

Livestock Production Assurance National Vendor Declaration

Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) is industry’s on-farm market assurance program. Producers seeking information about LPA and procedures for accessing LPA NVDs should visit the Integrity Systems website or phone the LPA helpline on 1800 683 111 during business hours.

Non-Livestock Production Assurance documentation

Producers who are not part of the Livestock Production Assurance program can complete a generic Victorian Sheep and goat Consignment Declaration:

Some buyers might require as a condition of purchase that vendors supply a correctly completed current edition LPA NVD form. This document is not one of these.

Check with the person receiving your sheep or goats whether they will accept this document.

For more information see National vendor declarations.

Page last updated: 09 Mar 2022