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How do I register?

If you intend to keep cattle, even as pets, you need to register the premise/land where you will keep the animals.

You must register this with the Rural Payments Agency (RPA):

Phone: 03000 200 301

County Parish Holding Number

Once you have registered with RPA, a County Parish Holding Number (CPH) will be asigned to you.

This is a unique nine digit number essential for tracing animal movements and identification.


As soon as you bring the animals onto your premise you need to register them with the Animal Health and Plant Agency (APHA):

Phone: 03000 200 301

They will ask you for your CPH. Once you complete the registration process, you will be given a herdmark.

This is a unique number used for identifying bovines from your herd.

Cattle Tracing System

You will also need to inform the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) of your intention to keep cattle.

They will register your details on the Cattle Tracing System (CTS).


Once you have your herdmark this will allow you to buy tags. All cattle born after 1 January 1998 must have a Defra approved eartag in each ear (double tagging), each showing the same unique number.


Tags must be fitted within certain deadlines:

  • Beef cattle must have both tags applied within 20 days of birth.
  • Dairy cattle must have at least one of the tags fitted within 36 hours of birth, with the second applied within 20 days of birth.
  • Bison should be tagged within 9 months of birth or before weaning, whichever is soonest.  

All cattle must be tagged before they leave the holding of birth.

Tag format

Since 1 January 2000, ear tags must have a specific numeric format.

They contain the:

  • Crown logo
  • Country code
  • Herdmark
  • Individual animal number
  • Check digit

Lost or illegible tags

Remember to replace lost or illegible tags as soon as possible, but no later than 28 days after you notice the loss or illegibility.

You can only buy official ear tags from suppliers registered with BCMS, a list of approved suppliers is below:


Cattle born in or imported into Great Britain since 1 July 1996 must have a cattle passport.

This forms the basis of all identification and movement records, and must remain with them throughout their lives.

The British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) issue Passports.

You should submit applications for cattle and buffalo to BCMS within 27 days of birth, or within 7 days from birth for bison.


You should report every movement of cattle on or off your premise. These  should be reported to BCMS within 3 days of the movement taking place. You can do this online, by post, or over the phone.

Please note: 3 days is the deadline for BCMS receiving the information, not for sending it.

Each movement of cattle onto the premise triggers a movement standstill. This which means that you cannot move any livestock off the premises for 6 clear days.

Please note: the day of purchase does not count as a clear day. 

Further information can be found on Gov.uk's Guidance on keeping cattle, bison and buffalo page.

Please note: your cattle may need to undergo a pre-movement tuberculosis (TB) test before moving off the premise. Contact APHA for more information on 03000 200 301.


As a cattle keeper, you must keep a holding register. You can keep your records on paper, a computer or a combination of both. If you keep your records on computer they must be available for inspection on request.

You must keep cattle registers for 10 years from the date of the last entry. A cattle holding register produced by us is available to print below:

Veterinary Medicines

It is a legal requirement to keep a record of all medicines administered to food producing animals, including those administered by your veterinary surgeon or in-feed. You may keep these records on paper or computer and you must keep them for at least 5 years.

You can view The Code of Practice on Gov.uk's  Responsible Use of Animal Medicines on the Farm page.

A veterinary medicine record book produced by us is also available to print below:

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