Background - NLIS sheep and goats

Tagged sheep being electronically scanned as they walk past a farmer with a tag reader

Reason for change

NLIS (Sheep and goats) was introduced in 2006, based on the use of visually readable tags along with paper-based movement documents.

The mob-based visual tag system did not meet National Traceability Performance Standards (NLTPS) and enhancements were not practical or cost effective for Victoria.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) released a Decision Regulation Impact Statement (DRIS) for improving the NLIS. It concluded that it is not practical or cost effective for Victoria to enhance the mob-based visual tag system.

When considering improvement to NLIS (Sheep and goats) the DRIS highlights a need to ensure the system is efficient in the time taken from decision to action and the resources requirements and burden of regulation upon industry be balanced with the need for whole of life traceability against the NLTPS.

Electronic identification tags have been mandatory in the cattle industry for over a decade. In addition to the traceability benefits during a disease outbreak or food safety emergency, the storage of individual animal data provides opportunities for producers to further improve their production systems.

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Why a phased approach?

The Victorian Minister for Agriculture announced on 24 August 2016 that Victoria would phase-in an electronic identification system for sheep and goats. Victorian sheep and goat industries have played a significant role in shaping the electronic NLIS through extensive engagement and consultation along the entire supply chain.

A phased approach was chosen to allow time for all parts of the supply chain to adapt to the new system.

Key considerations for the phased implementation approach included how electronic information might be collected, recorded and used to add value to livestock production and processing.

Key transition dates

Victoria is progressively implementing mandatory electronic identification for sheep and goats:

  • All sheep and most goat breeds born in Victoria 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.
  • Since 31 December 2017 Victorian abattoirs and knackeries have been scanning electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags and recording animals are deceased on the NLIS database.
  • Since 31 March 2018 all electronically tagged sheep and goats have been scanned in saleyards with tag information, along with the Property Identification Codes (PICs) of the vendor and purchaser, uploaded to the NLIS database.
  • Since 31 March 2018 property to property (P2P) movement recording has been required where electronically tagged sheep or goats born after 1 January 2017 move directly between properties.
  • Since 1 January 2019 all sheep and non-exempt goats introduced from interstate and born on or after this date must be tagged with an electronic pink post-breeder NLIS (sheep) tag before being dispatched from a Victorian property unless they are already tagged with an electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag.

Interstate producers must continue to meet their individual state requirements for tagging and identification of sheep and goats.

The visual tag and mob-based system and the electronic system will operate concurrently until 2022 when Victoria will have completed the transition to the electronic system.

From 1 January 2022, all sheep and non-exempt goats will need to be identified with an electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag before being moved off a Victorian property.

Page last updated: 09 Apr 2021