Sheep and goats can only be identified by ear tags/devices and must be tagged with an NLIS-accredited tag or device before being moved off a PIC.
In all states except Victoria, NLIS accredited devices for sheep and goats can be either an electronic (RFID) device or a visual (NLISID) tag. In Victoria, all lambs or kids born since 1 January 2017 must be fitted with individual RFID tags before they leave their PIC of birth.
Some tagging exemptions are in place for rangeland goats harvested from the wild and dairy goats in some states and territories. Check with your state/territory NLIS authority for more information.
Post-breeder devices may be applied to sheep or goats when moving mobs that include non-vendor bred animals. Refer to your movement documentation (e.g. NVD) for details.
For more information about NLIS accredited sheep and goat devices, see our Accredited Devices List for Sheep and Goats and the FAQ What is an (electronic) RFID? What is a (visual) NLISID?
If you are moving an animal off its PIC of birth, tag the animal with an NLIS-accredited breeder device. Once an animal has been tagged, the tag should remain with the animal for life.
It is an offence to remove an NLIS tag from an animal and apply another tag. If an animal has lost a tag and is no longer on its PIC of birth, tag the animal with an NLIS-accredited post-breeder device.
Tagging exemptions are in place for harvested (feral) and dairy goats in some states. Contact your NLIS state/territory authority for more information.
All devices that are NLIS accredited will have the NLIS logo printed on them. Cattle devices will also have the words 'Do not remove' printed on the male button. For more information about NLIS tags, devices and tag manufacturers, see our Accredited Devices Lists for Cattle and Sheep and Goats.
If you're receiving warning emails, having issues with the NLIS database or are having trouble logging in, check out the support information available.
An electronic Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) has both an NLISID and an RFID number. Both numbers can be used to individually identify animals on your property. When you buy NLIS devices for your PIC, the device manufacturer registers the NLISID and RFID numbers on the database, so when you use the database, you can enter either the NLISID or the RFID associated with a specific animal.
An NLISID number is printed on the outside of an electronic ear tag, or on a visual ear tag indicating a rumen bolus was applied (cattle only). An NLISID number can only be read visually by looking at the number on the device on a tagged animal. The first eight characters of an NLISID are the PIC the device was issued to (see example below).
An RFID number is assigned to the electronic RFID chip inside a device. An RFID number can only be read electronically, when animals are scanned with a tag reader.
Livestock should be tagged so that the tag is applied in the middle of the animal's ear, in accordance with the tag manufacturer's instructions.
A correctly applied cattle tag should be applied to the animal's right ear, as shown below:
A correctly applied sheep tag should usually be applied to the animal's left ear, as shown below. Please refer to your state/territory NLIS authority for any other specific requirements.
All animals leaving a property (PIC) must be identified with an NLIS accredited device before moving unless a permit is obtained from the state or territory authority. More information on tagging requirements for cattle, sheep and goats is available on the ISC website.
You do not need to notify NLIS when you tag an animal on your property. The NLIS database does not distinguish between tags applied to your animals and tags that are still unused. All devices are automatically registered to your PIC by the tag manufacturer when they are issued to you.
It can be useful to keep your own records of what tags are used, when and in what animals. ISC recommends keeping a record of the tag numbers when purchased and to which animals they have been applied. Visual ID numbers are printed on the bag for easy recording.
For an RFID tag to obtain full NLIS accreditation, it must complete a three-year field trial on several different properties across Australia and demonstrate loss rates across all trial properties below 3.5%.
If any producer is experiencing high tag loss rates then you are urged to contact the tag manufacturer directly and notify them of the problem. If you are unhappy with the manufacturer’s response to their problem, then a complaint can be lodged with ISC and we will further investigate the matter.
You can use either visual NLIS ID numbers or electronic RFID numbers to record a livestock movement.
Livestock movements with RFID tags should be recorded using the Livestock moved onto/off my property function. Livestock movements with visual tags should be recorded using the Mob-based movement onto/off my property function.
For information regarding the tagging of EU cattle, please contact European Union Cattle Accreditation Scheme on 1800 305 544 (available Monday to Friday 8am to 4pm) for more information.
For more information on pig tags for NLIS, visit pigpass.australianpork.com.au/faq and then look for the identification tab.
Electronic tags will need to be read manually or by using a scanner or a wand. If you don’t have one, you can ask to hire or borrow one from an agent.
If you’re having difficulty reading an animal’s tag number and it is electronically tagged, use a wand or employ an agent to assist. You may also be able to put the animal into a crush if there is one available to assist you in reading the tag.
Alternatively, the previous owner of the animal may have a record of the animal’s tag number. If you can at least obtain the unique last five digits of the animal’s tag number and have the previous owner’s PIC, the ISC Helpdesk may be able to help you work out the animal's full tag number using this information.