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.

Purpose behind identifying and registering animals

There are detailed rules for identifying and registering animals. These vary according to species and cover the need to use ear tags, herd registers, flock registers and movements documents. A key element is the Animal and Public Health Information System (APHIS) which is a database held by DAERA. It holds information relating to cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and birds. It is critical that the data held on APHIS is accurate because it is used to:

  • operate disease control programmes, for example, TB, Brucellosis and Aujeszky’s Disease
  • rapidly trace movements in the event of an exotic disease outbreak, such as Foot and Mouth Disease and Bluetongue
  • provide public health and trade assurances for the safety of our meat and pork
  • ensure cross compliance requirements are fulfilled to meet the requirement of Single Farm Payments (SFP)

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