Livestock identification and movement: goats

Page last updated: Monday, 5 February 2024 - 11:47am

Please note: This content may be out of date and is currently under review.

Western Australia has a mandatory livestock ownership, identification and movement system.

Identification of livestock is required by law under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management (Identification and Movement of Stock and Apiaries) Regulations 2013 [BAM(IMSA)] Regulations.

Goats in Western Australia must have an NLIS tag or device bearing the brand or PIC of the owner.

Earmarking of goats in WA is optional. If you choose to earmark, goats must be identified with the registered earmark listed on your PIC card.

Whether you have one goat or 20, they must all be identified.

Stock traceability is the first step in good biosecurity and is a key part of everyday sound farm management practices. Traceability is essential to maintain access to export markets and for food safety. It allows stock to be traced for disease or residue purposes and deters stock theft.

Register as an owner of livestock and obtain a property identification code (PIC) for each property where you keep livestock

All goat owners must be registered with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD).

There are now two avenues to register: via the new online Brands Portal or with the existing paper-based applications. The Brands Portal is a secure website that allows Beekeepers, Livestock owners and supply chain location operators to manage their registrations online. It is the preferred option for submitting registrations. To register as an owner of stock, login to the Brands Portal online.  

You will be taken to the Welcome page which will guide you through the Digital Identity setup and Brands Portal login procedures. If you are unable or prefer not to use the Brands Portal, you can download and send in the completed paper forms via email or post.

On registration you will be issued registered identifiers (stock brand, earmark and pig tattoo) and a property identification code (PIC) for the property where the animals are kept. A PIC card is issued that lists the properties that the owner has nominated to run stock on and the registered identifiers for use with the stock.

For more information see:

• Livestock ownership, identification and movement in Western Australia
• Registering as an owner of stock
• Application for registration as an owner of stock

Identify your stock correctly

Identifying your goats correctly assists in maintaining Australia's biosecurity systems that assure trading partners of our ability to trace disease and residue issues effectively. It also deters theft and assists in recovering stolen animals

Goats in Western Australia must have an NLIS tag or device bearing the brand or PIC of the owner.

Earmarking goats in WA is optional. If you choose to earmark your goats, they must be identified with the registered earmark listed on your PIC card. 

Goats in the South West land division must be identified with an accredited year of birth coloured NLIS tag bearing the brand or PIC of the owner when they are weaned, before they reach six months of age or before they are moved from the property, whichever occurs first. Earmarking is optional.

Goats outside the South West land division of WA are not required to be identified while on the property of birth if they are managed goats, or property of capture if they are rangeland goats, however to claim ownership, all goats should be tagged with an NLIS ear tag bearing the brand of the owner.

Tagging to leave the property is not required if the goats are being moved from the property of birth or capture, direct to slaughter, or to a neighbouring property or approved depot for transport to processor. If moving untagged goats, you must keep them separate from any other stock and the documentation (waybills) for untagged goats must relate only to stock moving under these conditions.

Movement to any other property outside the South West land division and into the agricultural area requires full compliance with correct NLIS identification, a waybill and updating of the NLIS database to the new PIC.

Rangeland goat depots

Properties outside the South West land division operating as a rangeland goat depot have a standard operating manual that must be adhered to.

Compliance with operating procedures provides access to permission to receive untagged captured goats for subsequent direct consignment to an abattoir without tagging.

The manual outlines all requirements for movement documentation, database uploads and the auditing procedure to operate as a depot.

Please email or contact 1300 WA NLIS (1300 926 547) from Monday to Friday, 8.30am-4.30pm AWST (excluding public holidays). 

Registered stock brand 

All sheep brought onto property must have a pink tag in the earmark ear.  Sheep bred on property the males have year of birth tag in left ear and the females have year of birth tag in right ear
Sample of registered stock brands and correct placement for goats (and sheep)

Your registered brand consists of two letters and a number and is issued by DPIRD. One of the letters may be ‘lazy’, laying on its side to the left.

Your brand can be printed on your NLIS ear tags to indicate ownership. Using your brand on your NLIS tags (and not your PIC) means that goats only need to be re-tagged when ownership changes, and not with a change in PIC.

Registered earmark 

Earmarking goats in WA is optional.

Your earmark is a combination of two shaped notches taken out of the ear with approved earmarking pliers.

Should you choose to earmark, the registered earmark must be placed in the left ear for females and the right ear for males, and in the correct locations on the ear as illustrated on your registration certificate.

The appearance will alter if it is applied to the ear from a different position, e.g. from behind the ear instead of from the front. This will not be your legal earmark and may belong to someone else.

Goats only need to be earmarked once in their life, if at all.

Approved earmarking pliers must be used which are available from rural suppliers or online direct from the manufacturers.

NLIS requirements

Visual tags

The BAM (IMSA) Regulations underpin the NLIS, requiring goats to have an approved NLIS ear tag displaying the current owner’s registered brand or PIC.

When the animal is on the property of birth, use the NLIS tag that is correct colour for the year of birth. This should be placed in the right ear for females and left ear for males. 

The year of birth colour system has eight colours. The colours are black, white, orange, light green, purple, yellow, red and sky blue, in that order. Each colour designates a year on a rolling cycle starting with the colour black and ending with sky blue, and then returning to black. Pink is used for post-breeder tags to show that goats have been brought onto the property, usually from a different owner. 

Year of birth tag colours
NLIS sheep/goat year of birth colours

When goats are sold or given to a new owner, the new owner must apply an additional pink NLIS tag, imprinted with their brand or PIC, in the ear opposite the year of birth coloured tag (in the earmark ear).

Owners using a PIC on their visual tags must be aware that if they move their stock between their properties that have different PICs, like agistment blocks, then they will have to re-tag those animals according to PIC of location.

Using the brand on the visual tags means that re-tagging is only necessary when the stock is moved to a property with a different brand. In most cases, this only occurs when they are sold to a new owner. This is the least time-consuming option.

Electronic devices

NLIS accredited radio frequency identifier (RFID) tags, also known as NLIS electronic devices, are available for use. These devices have the PIC of the property they are purchased for on the outside of the tag as part of an individual 16 character identification number. They can only be used on this property.

If electronic devices are fitted, the RFID is scanned by a reader when the goats are moved and its details are used to record the movement to the new PIC on the NLIS database. No additional tags are required.

The NLIS sheep and goat accredited devices sheet provides more information.

Identification exemptions

  • Unweaned kids - if moved with their correctly identified mother between properties with the same PIC, unweaned goats do not need to be identified.
  • Rangeland goats - harvested rangeland goats can be sent direct to slaughter from property of capture without an NLIS tag
  • Breed societies - The BAM (IMSA) Regulations allow an approved breed society mark to be used instead of the owner's earmark. Breed societies must have their preferred identification approved by the Registrar of Stock and Apiaries before using this option. See Approved identifiers for livestock for the application procedure and currently approved breed societies.

All stock must still meet NLIS requirements and display correct NLIS identification.

Goats that are brought onto your property

Existing earmarks

Purchased/introduced goats that are already earmarked should not be re-earmarked.

A pink NLIS tag must be fitted to the earmark ear if goats or sheep are brought into your property
Fit a pink NLIS tag to the earmark ear if goats or sheep are brought onto your property


You are required to fit an additional pink NLIS tag to the goats before moving them off the property, even if it is to another property you own. It is advisable to pink tag on arrival to assist in identification if animals stray.

If introduced goats have NLIS electronic devices and you wish to use these, they need to be scanned and transferred to your PIC on the NLIS database. If you choose not to use the existing electronic devices, you must fit pink NLIS visual tags to those goats.

If introduced goats do not have an NLIS identifier when you take possession, a pink NLIS tag in the correct ear according to gender should be fitted as soon as practicable. Refer to the illustration under the section 'registered stock brand'. 

It is illegal to remove or replace NLIS tags.

Identification equipment

Equipment for NLIS tagging
NLIS ear tagging equipment

Please note the following:

  • Equipment for identifying stock must not be removed from the property/ies with the PIC they are registered to without a permit from DPIRD
  • NLIS tags with a specific PIC or brand can only be applied to animals while on the property/ies registered to that PIC unless a permit has been issued by an inspector
  • NLIS tags cannot be taken to a saleyard or similar facilities to be applied to goats unless a permit has been issued by an inspector

All identification equipment including tags can be purchased through rural suppliers or online direct from the manufacturer.

Complete an NVD/Waybill every time you move stock from a PIC

Goats must not be moved off a property without having correct NLIS identification bearing the brand or PIC of the property and a completed waybill or equivalent.

These requirements ensure that animals can be traced in the event of disease outbreak or chemical residue incident.

The waybill also provides proof that stock is being moved with the owner’s consent and it must remain with the stock while they are being transported. The documents must be kept for seven years.

To register with the Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) program and become accredited to access the commercially preferred National Vendor Declaration waybills, contact 1800 683 111, option 1, or go online at the Meat and Livestock Australia website.

For more information, see the webpage: Moving livestock in Western Australia

Record all stock coming onto the property on the NLIS database within 48 hours of arrival

Movements of goats to a property with a different PIC must be recorded on the NLIS database within 48 hours of arrival at the new PIC. This is the responsibility of the receiver of the stock. They do not have to physically do it themselves but they must ensure it is done.

For more information, see the webpage: Creating an account and using the NLIS database.

Goats with visual NLIS tags are recorded as mob-based movements (MBM).

The following information is recorded in an upload to the database:

  • consigning PIC (From PIC)
  • the brand or PIC on the tags
  • destination PIC (To PIC)
  • number of goats
  • the length of time the goats have been on consigning PIC
  • waybill number and
  • date of movement

The brand on all the last applied visual tags on goats in a consignment should be that of the current owner, all be the same and relate to the PIC of the property of consignment on the NVD waybill.

Goats fitted with an NLIS electronic device can be scanned and transferred individually as with cattle or sheep.

For more information, see the webpage: creating an account and using the NLIS database

If goats are bought from a saleyard or public auction, such as on-farm sale or clearing sale, the saleyard operators will record the movement of the stock to the buyer’s PIC. This is the one instance where the receiver does not have to do the transfer, however they should still check that it has been done.

For more information, see the webpage: Moving livestock in Western Australia.

Meeting legislative requirements

If you are an owner of livestock, you have a responsibility to ensure that you meet requirements of the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management (Identification and Movement of Stock and Apiaries) Regulations 2013.

The penalty for a breach of this legislation may be a fine up to $20 000.

Offences under the BAM (IMSA) Regulations 2013

  • possessing stock that are not legally identified
  • using another person’s registered brand or earmark
  • possessing another person’s registered earmarking equipment
  • applying your earmark or NLIS tags to animals on another person’s property
  • using another person's NLIS tags
  • removing NLIS ear tags
  • trading/moving animals without correct identification
  • failure to transfer animals on the NLIS database after movement to a different PIC

Contact information

Livestock ownership, identification and traceability
1300 926 547