NLIS and identification - goats

Page last updated: Monday, 4 May 2020 - 12:07pm

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.

The regulations also require the use of the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS).

Identifying your livestock assists in tracing disease, deterring theft and recovering stolen animals.

Owners must register

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

Identification requirements

Goats 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. 

Registered stock brand - two letters and one number

Your registered brand consists of two letters and a number. One of the letters may be ‘lazy’, that is, 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 - combination of two shaped notches

Earmarking goats in WA is optional.

Your earmark is a combination of two shaped notches taken out of the ear. 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.


Visual tags

National Livestock Identification System sheep and goat year tag colours
National Livestock Identification System sheep and goat year tag colours

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 and the NLIS logo before moving from the property.

When the animal is on the property of birth, use the NLIS tag that is colour coded 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. 

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, for example, 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 and update ownership details. No additional tags are required. If an owner chooses not to use existing electronic identification on stock they purchase, they must then identify those animals with a pink NLIS visual tag prior to them leaving the property.

South West land division

Goats in the South West land division must be identified with an accredited NLIS tag or device of the correct colour, before they are moved from the property, or before they reach 6 months of age, whichever occurs first.

Outside the South West land division

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 bulking to 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 or equivalent 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 contact the DPIRD Operations Manager of Stock Identification and Traceability for further 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.
  • 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.

Introduced goats

Purchased/introduced goats that are already earmarked do not have to be re-identified - you must have documentation to show ownership. You are required to fit a pink NLIS tag to the goats before they 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 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. 

It is illegal to remove or replace NLIS tags.

Identification equipment

Note the following:

  • Equipment for applying the earmark must not be removed from the property/ies with the PIC they are registered to without a permit from the 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

Moving goats

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 LPA 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 Australi.

Goats must also have their movements to a different PIC updated on the NLIS database.

NLIS database

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:

  • originating PIC/PIC of consignment
  • the brand or PIC on the tags
  • destination 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 owner, all be the same and relate to the PIC of the property of dispatch on the NVD waybill.

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

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.

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.

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

Contact information

Livestock ownership, identification and traceability
1300 926 547