Identification, registration and movement of cattle

This page contains information on Identification, registration and movement (IRM) of cattle in Northern Ireland. The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) maintains records of cattle births, deaths and movements.


The European Union (EU) requirements provide that all cattle keepers must notify the Department of the births, death (including stillbirths) and movement of cattle, animals must be double tagged and a herd register must be kept to record this information. Details of these requirements are set out in Council Regulation (EC) No. 1760/2000.

The Department is required to apply sanctions to animals and/or herds that do not comply with the Regulations. The purpose of these sanctions is to ensure that cattle and cattle products destined for human consumption are safe. Additionally the Regulations protect farmers and others buying cattle of unknown origin. In this way the marketability of cattle is enhanced and the confidence of consumers in the safety of beef is increased.

Cattle Statuses Reminder

All cattle must be identified with DAERA approved ear tags and have their birth and identification notified to DAERA within 27 days. Deaths and movements must be notified within 7 days.

Identification and Registration (I&R) statuses are applied to an animal on the APHIS database when either:

  • An animal is not identified and registered within the legal timeframe.
  • A major discrepancy exists between the animal’s physical identity and that held on the APHIS database.
  • An animal loses its ear tags.

These cattle are only permitted to move to slaughter and in each case a movement restriction notice is posted to the herd keeper.

These statuses include IDQ, DOBQ, NNO and UNCOR (details in table below).

As the Agri-food industry drives forward its export agenda, the focus on identity assurance and robust traceability has intensified. Recently the Food Standards Agency in conjunction with DAERA clarified their expectations of Food Business Operators’ (FBOs) procedures in slaughterhouses to satisfy traceability requirements of cattle entering the food chain. The FBO’s procedures are verified by official controls implemented by DAERA staff.

This increased focus on traceability may result in animals presented with any of the above statuses being excluded from the food chain.

As a result of this clarification, herd-keepers intending to slaughter cattle are advised to check their APHIS herd lists for animals with statuses. These can be obtained on line or from a DAERA Direct office. Those herd keepers who have animals with statuses are advised to contact their FBO prior to delivery of the animals regarding their slaughter eligibility. The local DAERA Direct Office can provide herd keepers with a document containing additional information held on APHIS regarding an animal with an I&R status which may assist the FBO with their decision regarding slaughter eligibility.

This decision cannot be made by DAERA field staff.

Please Note: an animal with an IDU status will not be accepted for slaughter in any circumstances.

You should give at least three working days’ notice to enable the information on this document to be compiled.

You can prevent the application of statuses to your animals by:

  • Identifying and registering all cattle within the legal timeframes;
  • Obtaining replacement tags promptly when tags are lost;
  • Ensuring your herd register is updated as events happen.

Under certain circumstances statuses may be removed from animals if the appropriate information is supplied to DAERA. Please contact your local DAERA Direct Office for more details.

Cattle Identification and Registration Statuses


Animal not identified correctly or animal description does not match original registration or animals of any age that become re-identified with a new number on or after 15/08/2005.


Birth notification (MC1) not received, incomplete, or received more than 27 Calendar days from date of birth.


The registration of the date of birth is incomplete or there is a discrepancy between the age of the animal and the date of birth registered on APHIS.


Animal born on or after 01/01/1998 and re-identified with a new number before 15/08/2005.


Animal found to have a serious cattle identification discrepancy. If proof of identification is not established within 2 working days the animal will beslaughtered and no compensation will be payable.

Codes for use in a herd register

The list is complete for Northern Ireland at present and will be revised by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) as necessary.

However, if you require to record a breed not on the list, contact your local DAERA Direct Office (DDO) for advice. In the case of crossbreeds record only the dominant breed.

Breed code Breed code Breed code Breed code
Aberdeen Angus - AA Angler Rotvieh - AR Ankole - ANK Armoricaine - ARM
Aubrac - AU Australian Lowline - ALL AyrShire - AYR Baltata & Baltata Romanesca - BAR
Baltata Bruna - BBR Baltata Negra - BAN Bazadais - BAZ Beefalo - BEE
Beefmaster - BMS Belgian Blue - BB Belted Galloway - BGA Bison - BI
Blonde D'Aquataine - DAQ Blue Albion - BAL Blue Grey - BLG Brahman - BRH
Braunbieh - BRA Bretoone Pie Noire - BPN British Blue - BRB British White - BW
Bruna De Maramures - BDM Canadian Black - CAN Charolais - CH Chianina - CHI
Chillingham - CHL Danish Red - DR Devon - DEV Dexter - DEX
East Finish Brown - EFB English Park - ENP European Angus - EA  Fleckvieh - FKV
Frisona Espagnola - FRE Friesian - FR Galloway - GAL Gayal - GAY
Gasconne - GAS Gelbvieh - GE Gloucester - GLO Groninger Blaarkop - GRB
Guernsey - GU Hereford - HER Highland - HI  Holstein - HOL
Irish Moile - IM Jersey - JER Kerry - KE Lakenvelder - LAK
Longhorn - LH Limousin - LIM Lincoln Red - LNR  Lithuanian Black and White - LBW
Luing - LUI  Malkekorthorn - MAL  Maine Ahjou - MAJ  Marchigiana - MAR
Meuse Rhine Yssel - MRI Miniature Zebru - MZB Montbeliarde - MB Murray Grey - MG
Normande - NOR Norweigan Red - NR  Old English - OLE Parthenais - PAR
Piemontese - PIE Pinzgauer - PIN Red Poll - RPL Reggiana - REG
Romagnola - ROM Rotbunt - ROT Salers - SAL Shetland - STL
Shortburn - SH Shorthorn Beef - SHB Shorthorn Dairy - SHD Simmental - SIM
South Devon - SD Speckle Park - SPK Stabiliser - ST Sussex - SU
Swedish Red - SWR Swiss Brown - SBR Swiss Grey - SWG Tarantaise Tarina - TAT
Tyrone Black - TYB Unknown - UNK Valsostana Nera - VAN Vaynol - VA
Vosgienne-Vosges - VOS Wagyu - WAG Water Buffalo - BU Welsh Black - WB
Welsh White - WEW White Galloway - WG White Park - WP Yak - YAK
Zebu - ZEB      

Colour codes

All colour types are covered. Do not use any variations. Colour dominance is not important. For example. white and black is BW. Please note that brown is not a colour to be used. Depending on the intensity of the colour, Red (R) or Dun (D) should be used.

Colour code Colour code Colour code Colour code
Black - B Blue - BL Brindle - BR Dun - D (includes yellow, fawn, cream, light brown etc)
Red - R Roan - RN Black & White - BW Blue & White - BLW
Dun & White - DW Red & White - RW White - W  

Class/sex codes

All bulls over 6 months of age should be recorded as bulls (B). All other males (in other words steers and bull calves) should be recorded as males (M) unless the bull calf is intended for breeding purposes or bull beef production in which case bull (B) should be used. 

Class/sex code Class/sex code Class/sex code
Bull - B Female - F Male - M

Date of birth details

  • the exact date of birth must be entered for animals born in the herd
  • for animals bought into the herd, the date of birth should be taken from the accompanying movement document

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