Ovine Observer

Optional sheep ear marking comes into effect from 1 January 2022

From 1 January 2022, earmarking of sheep and earmarking and/or branding of cattle (including buffalo) will be optional.

Following consultation undertaken by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) in 2020, changes have been made to the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management (Identification and Movement of Stock and Apiaries) Regulations 2013 for the identification of sheep and cattle (including buffalo). 

Sheep identification requirements:

  • Earmarking of sheep is optional from 1 January 2022. This means that it is up to each owner to choose whether to earmark their sheep.
  • Some owners may wish to reduce the costs, labour, time and physical impacts on their stock by ceasing to earmark, while others may retain earmarking as an additional form of identification, such as for farm management purposes.
  • Owners who continue to earmark will be required to use the registered earmark allocated to them, as listed on their PIC card. 
  • NLIS tagging on property of birth, with an accredited year of birth-coloured NLIS visual or electronic tag, remains mandatory.
  • NLIS tagging with an additional pink tag, prior to leaving any owner’s property, remains mandatory.

For further information on the requirements for identification and traceability of sheep, please visit