Victoria’s transition to electronic identification of sheep and goats

August 15, 2018

Investing now, protecting tomorrow.

The National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) is Australia’s system for identifying and tracking livestock for food safety, disease control, animal welfare and market access purposes.

From 1 January 2017, Victoria commenced the transition from a mob and visual tag based NLIS (Sheep & Goats) to an electronic tag based system. Once fully implemented, it will be possible for sheep and goats to be tracked reliably from their property of birth to place of slaughter, protecting and enhancing the reputation of Victoria’s livestock industries.

With electronic identification of sheep and goats, producers can also more easily record commercially valuable information about the productivity of their livestock.

The Victorian Government is supporting the industry as it transitions to an electronic NLIS (Sheep & Goats) system with a $17.06 million funding package.

The funding is supporting the industry with a range of grants and enables producers to purchase ‘cost neutral’ electronic tags for the first 12 months to identify lambs and kids born in 2017.

The cheapest electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags are available for $0.35 each. Tag prices for 2018 will be announced in late 2017.

What are the benefits of the new system?

The 2014 report from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural Resource Economics (ABARE) and the 2016 report from the World Organisation for Animal Health presented strong evidence in support of the adoption of an electronic traceability system for Victoria.

After extensive consultation with the sheep and goat industries, the Victorian Government made the decision to introduce the new system, which will deliver the following key benefits:

• enable prompt tracing of animals during disease and food safety emergencies,

• help to maintain and expand market access,

• enable producers to better manage their sheep flocks and goat herds,

• reduce the need for physical handling for identification, thereby reducing stress and risk of injury to animals, and

• support innovation in the sheep and goat industries.

What are the NLIS (Sheep & Goats) tagging requirements?

• 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 in Victoria or elsewhere in Australia.

• Sheep and most goat breeds born before 1 January 2017 must have either a visually readable or electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag before leaving the property on which they reside.

• Sheep and 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.

• From 1 January 2019, sheep and goats introduced from interstate and born after 1 January 2017 must be electronically tagged before they leave a Victorian property.

• 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 are printed with a Property Identification Code (PIC) for each property.

• NLIS (Sheep) tags issued to one property cannot be used to tag animals located on a different property.

• If sheep or goats are already identified with an electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag, do not attach a second electronic NLIS (Sheep) tag.

• Visual and electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags must not be removed from purchased sheep and goats.

• NLIS (Cattle) tags must not be used to identify sheep or goats and electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags must not be used to identify cattle.

What are NLIS (Sheep) tags?

Two types of visual and electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags are available for the permanent identification of sheep and goats:

• NLIS (Sheep) Breeder tags are colour coded to match the sheep industry’s ‘year of birth’ tag colour system. White and orange are the ‘year of birth’ colours for 2017 and 2018, respectively. Breeders are encouraged to use the correct ‘year of birth’ colour.

• NLIS (Sheep) Post-breeder tags are pink. They can be used to identify:

a) sheep and goats no longer on their property of birth,

b) introduced animals that have lost their original NLIS (Sheep) tag, and

c) sheep still on their property of birth.

Where can I buy electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags?

There are three ways to purchase electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags.

1. Visit to use Agriculture Victoria’s online tag ordering service

2. Download an application form and then complete and return it to Agriculture Victoria (the postal address is listed on the form)

3. Order tags through your rural supply store who can purchase tags on your behalf via Agriculture Victoria’s tag ordering service.

What sheep electronic identification tags are available?

Several brands of electronic NLIS (Sheep) tags are available through Agriculture Victoria’s tag ordering service. Photos of each tag can be seen at

How do I tag sheep and goats correctly?

NLIS (Sheep) Breeder and Post-breeder tags can be attached to either ear, although fewer tags are lost from the left ear during shearing.

Read the tag supplier’s instructions before tagging your sheep and goats.

Do I need to supply a National Vendor Declaration (NVD) when selling sheep and goats?

If you consign sheep or goats to a saleyard, abattoir or another producer, you must provide the person receiving the animals with a correctly completed NVD form. The NVD must include your Property Identification Code (PIC).

A NVD must be supplied for all sheep and goat movements, regardless of the age of the animals, or whether a tagging exemption applies for goats.

Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) supplies NVD forms. You can order these online from LPA at, or by phoning 1800 683 111 during business hours.

What is a Property Identification Code (PIC)?

A PIC is an eight-character code assigned by Agriculture Victoria to livestock properties. Victorian PICs start with the number ‘3’ followed by four letters and three numbers as follows— 3ABCD123. If you buy sheep or goats at an auction, at the time of purchase you must give the selling agent the PIC of the location where they will be taken.

When does movement recording start? From 31 March 2018, movement recording will be mandatory for electronically tagged sheep and goats that are sold in Victorian saleyards, or that are moved directly between two properties. The person receiving sheep or goats born on or 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. 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. For further information on using the NLIS database, visit or contact the NLIS Database Helpline on 1800 654 743 during business hours. Where can I get more information about the transition to an electronic NLIS (Sheep & Goats) system? For further information: • visit, • email, or • call Agriculture Victoria’s NLIS Helpline on 1800 678 779 during business hours. For more information about Agriculture Victoria go to or call the Customer Service Centre on 136 186. Authorised and published by Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, 1 Spring Street, Melbourne. December 2016. If you would like to receive this publication in an accessible format, such as large print, audio or in another language, please call the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources on 136 186, email or go to Disclaimer This publication may be of assistance to you but the State of Victoria and its employees do not guarantee that the publication is without flaw of any kind or is wholly appropriate for your particular purposes and therefore disclaims all liability for any error, loss or other consequence which may arise from you relying on any information in this publication.

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