Owning, keeping and moving sheep

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.

Sheep and goat owners, keepers and managers key responsibilities

All owners, keepers and managers of sheep and goats must:

  • register the property where sheep or goats are kept with a Property Identification Code (PIC)ensure all sheep and goats moving off your property are NLIS tagged
  • complete a movement document for all sheep and goats moving off your property
  • complete a movement transfer for all sheep and goats moving onto your property

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.

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)

How to register a property where sheep or goats are kept.

All sheep and goat owners and keepers regardless of the intended use of the sheep and goats are required to have a Property Identification Code (PIC) identifying the property where sheep and goats are kept.

A Victorian PIC starts with the number 3 followed by four letters and three numbers 3ABCD123.

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

Ensure all sheep and non-exempt goats moving off your property are tagged.

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

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.

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.

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 transponder 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.


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.

Sheep tagging animation, description:

Words appear “Correct sheep and goat tagging” with a drawing of a sheep’s head, an applicator and a sheep tag.  Below is the words “Follow manufacturer’s instructions and use correct applicators when applying NLIS accredited tags.

The tag applicator moves to the right ear as the camera zooms in and the tag is attached.  The applicator moves off screen.

The split screen shows the correct positions for the tag.  The correct position is on the left hand screen where the tag is at the top of the ear.  The incorrect position on the right hand screen shows the tag at the outer edge of the ear.

The split screen shows the correct positions for the tag.  The correct position is on the left hand screen where the tag is at the top of the ear.  The incorrect position on the right hand screen shows the tag at the top of the ear, towards the outer edge.

The split screen shows the correct positions for the tag.  The correct position is on the left hand screen where the tag is at the top of the ear.  The incorrect position on the right hand screen shows the tag at the bottom of the ear, close to the head.

The next frame shows a drawing of an untagged sheep’s head. The words “Apply to either ear” appear and an applicator is show attaching a tag to the left ear.

The words “one electronic tag” appear and the applicator moves off screen.

The words “NLIS (sheep) accredited tag” appear with a tick.

The camera zooms in on the tag to reveal 3ABCD123XBU12345.  The 3ABCD123 is in bold.  The words “correct Property Identification Code” and a tick appear.

The top of the tagged sheep’s head is visible with the words “Order tags at tags.agriculture.vic.gov.au.”

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 movement of sheep and goats between properties

This includes:

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

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.

A third party may be engaged to scan tags and report movements to the NLIS database; however, the buyer/receiver is still required to ensure the transfer is completed on their behalf.

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.

The NLIS database - is the location where information on the movement of cattle, sheep and goats throughout Australia is stored.

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

Tagging - All sheep and non-exempt goats must have an appropriate NLIS (Sheep) tag before being moved to an agistment property.

PICs – There are two options when setting up a PIC for an agistment property.

Option 1

If the land on which the livestock are agisted is in the same locality (in the same shire or in a neighbouring shire) as your PIC then both blocks of land can be covered by the same PIC.

To add or remove parcels of land on your PIC, go to the PIC system.

If an agistment block is added to your ‘home’ PIC, there is no requirement to complete an NLIS database livestock movement or generate paperwork for sheep and goat movements between these properties.

Option 2

If the agistment property is not within the same or neighbouring shire as your PIC or you want to keep your own PIC and the agistment PIC separate, you can either apply for two PICs or ask for access to the property owners PIC if they have one.

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

  • a property with a different PIC
  • saleyard
  • scale
  • abattoir
  • given away or sold as pets.

This applies to all sheep and goat owners, keepers and managers, regardless of the numbers of the livestock moved.

The movement document must be provided to the receiver or new owner by no later than the time the animals arrive at their destination.

Movement documents are not required:

  • for dead sheep or goats being sent for processing at a knackery
  • for sheep and goats entering a show or event (provided the sheep or goats will be returning home).

Movement documents declare necessary and valuable information about the animals being sold or moved including confirmation of ownership, residence, life history, health and food safety information.

Livestock processors rely on the information to confirm that products entering the food chain are safe and meet market requirements.

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

People 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 owners or managers 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 Movement documentation.

Page last updated: 06 Mar 2024