NLIS sheep and goats videos

The following videos provide information regarding the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) sheep and goats.

Transition to electronic identification of sheep and goats

All sheep and goats born in Victoria require an electronic identification tag, linked to the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS), before being dispatched to a saleyard, abattoir or another property.

Victoria has a sheep and goat population of about 20 million, with meat and wool production valued at $2.7 billion per annum. Most move at least once between farms, or to a saleyardor abattoir in any one year.

Victoria’s current sheep and goat tracking system is based on visually readable ear tags and paper based National Vendor Declaration forms.

Electronic tags provide a much more accurate, efficient and reliable tracking method. That’s why Victoria’s sheep and goat industries, working with government, are moving to an electronic tracking system.

Effective traceability of sheep and goats will help protect our valuable livestock industries and safeguard jobs in rural areas.

In the event of a disease outbreak or food safety related emergency, swift and accurate tracking of sheep and goats will limit the impact.

Lambs and kids born in Victoria after 1 January 2017 must be tagged with an electronic NLIS sheep ear tag before they leave their property of birth. Tags are applied in the same way as the current tags.

Sheep and goats entering Victoria to be sold or slaughtered will not require an electronic tag.

Electronic tags are reliable and proven. They have been used to identify sheep and goats in Australia for many years, and are similar to the tags used to identify cattle for over a decade.

Electronic NLIS Sheep tags can be purchased from Agriculture Victoria by visiting www.agriculture.vic.gov.au/nlis.

Applying the tags before 2017-born sheep and goats leave their property of birth is the only compulsory requirement for producers in 2017.

Sheep and goats identified with electronic tags don’t need to be scanned by transporters when they are dispatched to a saleyard, abattoir or another property. There will, however, be changes to the way saleyards operate to accommodate electronically  tagged sheep.

From mid-2017, saleyards, abattoirs and knackeries will start scanning electronically tagged sheep and goats and uploading this information to the National Livestock Identification System database.

By 31 December 2017, all electronically tagged sheep and goats must be scanned in abattoirs.

By 31 March 2018 all electronically tagged sheep and goats must be scanned in saleyards.

Electronic tagging will drive innovation, particularly in the processing sector and by producers who use the technology for flock management and performance recording purposes.

From 31 March 2018 electronically tagged sheep and goats moving directly from property to property must be scanned by the producer receiving the animals, with the movement details uploaded to the NLIS database.

Education, training and grants are available to help you with these changes.

For more information about the electronic NLIS for Sheep and Goats, visit www.agriculture.vic.gov.au/sheepEID.

Electronic identification — sheep and goats

Key stakeholders discuss the value of EID across industry sectors.

(happy electronic music)

Charles Milne, Chief Veterinary Officer: ' Electronic traceability will give us huge advantages commercially and in terms of safeguarding our industry, so what farmers can do with accurate data management is tremendous nowadays. The opportunities are legion to maximise our profits and from a state government perspective the ability to manage disease outbreaks to manage food safety incidence is absolutely essential.'

Gordon Brown, farmer Shelburn district: 'For me it's a very easy decision and I'm getting a lot of reward for making the decisions many years ago. I think it's a forward step and I would support anyone thinking to go that way. I've been waiting all my life for this opportunity to improve what we're doing in the breeding programme. And I think others should join the team.'

Warren Straw, Director Electronic Identification, Biosecurity: 'As part of the (rollout of electronic identification of sheep and goats in Victoria we conducted a competitive tender for the supply of electronic NLIS sheep tags to Victoria for three years. That's placed downward pressure on prices. Four tag companies now have contracts to supply to Victoria Allflex, Shearwell, Datamars and Leader. That also means an increase in production of tags from around 600 thousand to 12 million tags every year. And Victorian producers have access to the cheapest electronic tags in Australia.'

Peter Cantwell, Sales Manager Shearwell Australia: 'The new electronic goat and sheep EID legislation has enabled Shearwell to go from printing thousands of tags to millions of tags. That's allowed Shearwell to invest in innovation of new, whole range of technologies and equipment and establish Shearwell in the industry in Victoria and Australia and invest in new staff, new plant, new equipment.'

Brendan Carey, Scanning Contractor: 'It's about getting the flows, getting the scanners in the right place so that we can get the information which is the RFID number into our cellular software systems and away we go, done, finished.'

Glenn Rae, McKeon McGregor, Bendigo: 'We are in the digital age and EIDs are going to produce digital data and it's just gonna give them a great opportunity to improve their own practises on their farm, in their business, and give them great opportunities which is more important to seek other markets overseas and at the end of the day it's gonna put money back in their pocket and really help increase their bottom line.'

Ben Verrall, Director Australian Lamb Company: 'Traceability side back for our consumers worldwide we're looking to know where products are actually coming from and now we have the ability going forward to be able to show them and demonstrate how we can track that.

Belinda Dexter, Finance Manager Australian Lamb Company: 'The lambs will come in, with electronic tags we will read those tags and then we will marry up those tags with all the individual carcasses along our process floor so we can identify and trace where those carcasses have come from so we can trace them back to the farmer and there will be an electronic record of that carcass throughout our process. So we feel from a processing perspective that it's really important that Victoria has taken the first step to become the first state to have electronic tagging. Our perspective is that it really means that it has increased our biosecurity, it means that we have a much more robust process that we can follow should there be any requirements down the track so we're really pleased that the Victorian government has really given our industry the support that it needs to ensure that moving forward, we can be competitive in the world market.'

(light electronic music)

Transition to electronic identification of sheep and goats in Victoria

Key industry stakeholders discuss how Victoria's move to mandatory electronic identification of sheep and goats is benefiting the industry, 18 months on.

Warren Straw, Director Electronic Identification, Biosecurity: 'We're on target, we're on track. And the milestones that have been set at the start of this project are being delivered.'

So we started with producers, who are required to put in tags for their newborn sheep and lambs, so, lambs and kids. In January, 2017 with very cost effective tags subsidised by the government. We've moved from there to processors, who are uploading and scanning those electronically tagged sheep and goats. And now we're in a situation where sale yards are meeting those same requirements and farmers, with their private property transfers. So we are right on track.'

Jennifer Brogan, Producer Shelburn: 'It's a very kind introduction, really, to something that's paramount and really important for the industry. And the benefits it will give you in the long run. '

Ben Cameron and Meera Dawson, young farmers: 'I still look at the cropping and think well, what, 15, 20 years ago nobody used auto steer, and a lot of people looked at the cost of that and thought, "No I'm just gonna keep steering by hand." But you wouldn't buy a new tractor now that didn't have it on it. And I think that the ID is just gonna be something like that, it's just gonna be part of our farming business and you'll scratch your head as to- -: How you managed before that. -: Yeah.

James Thompson, Central Victorian Livestock Exchange: 'I think there certainly has been a shift in attitude. I think there was a lot of unknowns, originally, when it was first announced. But in my mind, at that stage, it was no different from cattle, it was just a numbers game. It was more numbers. One of the issues, I think we had to start with was around hardware and sourcing the hardware that was going to be used going forward. But there's a lot of trial work done on existing, new...And that was a great part of it, was being able to test out and find out ways of getting efficiencies, capturing more data and value adding not just being around compliance and biosecurity, but value adding that through use of EID's.'

Richard Leach, Livestock Agent: 'I thought it'd be a lot of work and it wouldn't work to commercial state. But, thank God, I've been proved wrong. Come in here and it's worked very well. There's been a few little glitches here and there, which we expected, but we're working through that. With the introduction of this technology, it's all about lifetime traceability. That's what our clients want overseas, so they can trace it right back to the pad. And that's what gives us this.'

Ben Wilkinson, Hardware Supplier: 'The key feature to this particular reader is that it's been placed in an area to allow the user to capture the reads just through the normal process that they would follow in the sale yard. We haven't had to move the sheep or change the process at all. We're just capturing the reads and adding really no extra time to the normal process.'

Peter Brooker, Software Supplier: 'For the last 20 years, everything's been on pen and paper, but nowadays, with the tablets, we can punch in stuff here and it sends it straight back to the database and it's right there on the computer, ready for when all the agents go back. Instead of having to key everything in and double it, it just completely takes the double handling of data, just the way that you can run your sale just a bit more efficiently by using this technology just makes it so much easier. From pre-sale, from the drafting and all your penning, and then also to deliveries and making sure everything's going to the right place and the right buyer out the  back and getting loaded onto the right truck. Most feedback, it's all positive stuff as well. Everyone's just trying to give us that bit of feedback to forever make it better and better.'

Martin Pollack, Software Supplier: 'We've replicated what the agents do on their cards and in their books. And we're digitising that on the spot. It's bringing immediate efficiencies to the stock agent. ...both here in the field and also in the back office. The efficiencies that it brings means they're able to get away from the yards earlier and also eliminating many of the historical mistakes that would be made, inherent with any paper-based system.

Belinda Dexter, Australian Lamb Company: 'The introduction of AID scanning has really allowed our business to improve its tools in regard to traceability. So we're now able to trace back to our producers and let our customers know where their product is coming from. From a food safety perspective, from a biosecurity  perspective, our customers want to know this information and we're really happy that we're now in a position to provide it. At the moment, we export about 80% of our product, and we have customers in the US, in Europe, in Southeast Asia and in China, and all of those customers are looking for more information about the product that we can provide. And if they feel that we're providing information that we can show them is traceable and can be proven, then I think that's a really good tool for us to have.

Jaala Pulford, Agriculture Victoria Minister: 'What this is all about is making sure that we've got a much more robust trace-ability in the event that we've got an animal disease emergency.

(sheep baas)

It's also, though, got wonderful benefits in terms of our access to international markets. It's got wonderful benefits for productivity for our farmers and for everybody else along the supply chain. So, I really take this opportunity to issue an enormous and heartfelt thanks to the people who have made this possible.'

Collaboration drives innovation — 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.'

Stock up: buying, owning and selling livestock for small farm owners in Victoria

Agriculture Victoria NLIS officer Marnie Dortmans explains the role of livestock traceability and your responsibilities when owning and keeping livestock in Victoria.

Marnie Dortmans, Agriculture Victoria:

As a livestock owner whether you're a large scale producer a hobby farmer or keep a single animal as a pet your animal can impact the multi-billion dollar life of industry just the same as everyone else's. It is vital that properties where livestock are kept are registered on  our Victorian database. The animals leaving properties are identified correctly and they can be traced from one place to another. Traceability enables monitoring for disease, food safety and underpins Australia's local and international market.

The livestock traceability system for identifying and tracking livestock is a national livestock identification system for NLIS. NLIS consist of three elements: the identification of a physical location known as a property identification code or a pic; an animal identifier known as an Elias tag and the national web accessible database. The NLIS database stores and correlates livestock movement data and associated details.

A copy identification code or a pic is an eight character code allocated by Agriculture Victoria to identify a property on which livestock are kept. In Victoria pics commenced with the prefix three and are in the format three ABCD one two three as shown in the diagram the pit pad. The first two letters identify the local  government area in which the property is located; for example I'm in Ballarat so mine would be three BT.

All livestock owners, managers and occupiers of land must have an up-to-date pic for properties where livestock are kept; regardless of whether the livestock are being moved or not there.

There is no cost to apply or for maintain a pic in Victoria.

You must have a pic to purchase livestock, sell livestock  and buy a NLIS tag.

You must have a pic if you intend to keep one or more cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, camels, alpacas, llamas, horses or more than a hundred poultry or more than ten farms rearing ostriches.

Cattle analysing and tagging

There are two types of tags to identify cattle. They are known as  breeder tags and post breeder tags.

NLIS breeder tags are white and must only be used to identify cattle that are on their property at birth. NLIS post breeder tags are orange and are used to identify introduced cattle not already identified with the breeder or post breeder tags. I've included two pictures on the right hand side.

If an animal is born on a property and it loses tag the tag, it can be replaced with a white breeder tag. If an animal has been introduced onto a property and loses its tag it must be replaced with an orange post breeder tag. If an animal is born on a property and never leaves and there is no requirements for the animal to be tagged.

Cattle are required to be tagged prior to dispatch not off the property of birth. osten of a tag in a cow's ear and is very important for keeping it in place as shown in the diagram. If the tag is placed in the middle of the ear close to the base of the animal's head it is less likely to rip the tag out. NLIS tags on cattle must be attached to the animals right offside ear as shown in the picture at the top page. A second NLIS tag must not be attached if there is already an NLIS tag present. One NLIS tag per animal. NLIS tags purchased for use on one property must not be applied to cattle located on another property. NLIS  tags must not be removed unless the tag is damaged or cannot be read electronically.

Tagging sheep and goats

There's a visual and electronic NLIS tag. There's 2 systems running at the moment in sheep and goats.

On the 23rd of August 2016 the Minister of Agriculture announced that Victoria would transition to the mandatory use of electronic gear tag in sheep and goats. The visual tag system will continue to operate in conjunction with the electronic NLIS system until 2022 when the electronic system will be fully implemented in Victoria. All sheep and most goat breeds in Victoria born in Victoria from 1st of January in 2017 must be identified with an electronic NLIS tag. All sheep and most goat breeds born before 1st of January 2017 must be identified with either a visually readable or an electronic NLIS tag.

There are two types of NLIS tags to identify sheep and goats similar to cattle. Breeder tags are color coded for year of birth and can only be used to identify sheep and goats that are still on their property at birth and post breeder tags which are pink and they can be used to identify sheep and goats no longer on the property on which they were born.

If an animal is born on a property and it loses its tag the tag can be replaced with a coloured breeder tag. If an animal has been introduced onto a property and loses its tag it must be replaced with a pink post-credit tag similar to cattle. Also like cattle if an animal is born on a property and never leaves and there is no requirement for that animal to be tagged.

Sheep and goats are required to be tagged prior to dispatch off that property of birth.

Placement of the tag similar to cattle in sheep and goats is very important for keeping it in place as shown in the diagram at the top of the page.

If the tag is placed in the middle of the ear close to the base of the animal's head it is less likely to be ripped down.

Electronic sheep and goat NLIS tags

Similar to cattle one electronic tags per animal.

The difference to cattle is that the species either sheep or goats are nominated when ordering tags and those tags and make specifically for that species.

The correct tag must be placed in the correct species and just like cattle, cattle tags must not be used in sheep or goats'  ears and sheep and goat tags must not be used in cattle's ears.

The tags must not be removed unless they are not functioning or are damaged. They can be affixed to the left or the right ear which is different to cattle which are only in the right ear. Any NLIS  approved color can be used. So if you have some leftover that you ordered last year you can use them in the next three years. There's no requirement around that.

NLIS database

The NlIS database is industry managed and saw the huge amount of information relating to cattle, sheep and goat movements as animals are bought sold and moved along the supply chain they must be tagged with an NLIS tag.  Each movement they make to a location with a different pic is recorded centrally on the NLIS database by people with an NLIS account. NLIS accounts are free to open and operate.

There are many reports available from the NLIS database including confirming livestock movement records the stocks that have moved doctor have read on and off  property. Further information about the NLIS  database can be found at www.NLIS.com.au or calling their hotline on 1800 654 743.

Property to property movements of livestock

A property to property movement occurs when an animal moves between two different property identification codes.

Tips: this includes private sales of animals and animals being agisted or lent and animal's traded through online selling platforms such as oxen plus, gum tree and Facebook.

Victorian producers are required to notify the NLIS database when they receive the cattle sheep and or goat directly from another property.  A notification must occur within two days of the arrival. The receiver may engage someone else to notify the database on their behalf including the person who dispatched the livestock, a stock agent or the livestock transporter if they are equipped to do so but the responsibility still lies with the receiver.

Property to property excludes movement of livestock through from saleyards and abattoirs and the saleyard and abattoirs operators completely to transfer on the associated person's behalf.

NLIS tags

NLIS tags consist of two numbers; an external NLIS identifier which is the visual ID on the outside of the tag including the pic of the property it was allocated to. This number can be physically read off the outside of the tag. The second number is the internal radio frequency identification device or the rfid.  This is the internal number of the tag and can be be found by scanning the tag. The visual ID and the rfid are linked together with the pic used to order the tag and uploaded to the NLIS database.

Agriculture Victoria recommends using a scanner to read an electronic tag. Wherever the scanner is not available the visual NLIS id can be used.  If your visual ID is used to complete a livestock transfer. On the NLIS database please ensure it is correct as an incorrect number or letter could result in the transfer of the incorrect animal. Scanning the device ensure the numbers are correct.

Buying selling and moving livestock national vendor declarations (NVD)

Producers must provide a vendor declaration for any movement of sheep, goats and cattle off their property.  When livestock are purchased the buyer must be provided with the vendor declaration.

Producers use a national vendor declaration to declare necessary and valuable information about the food safety status of the livestock being sold.  Buyers rely on the NVD for accurate information of the livestock purchase and processes rely on the information to ensure only safe food enters our food chain.

So to conclude the NLIS is protecting you, your neighbour and your livestock industry.  The information can be found at www.agriculture.vic.gov.au or by calling Agriculture Victoria helpline.

Page last updated: 30 Jul 2020