Introduction to Identification, Registration and Movement of Animals

This section contains information related to the identification, registration and movement (IRM) of animals. The identification and tracing of animals for veterinary purposes is of crucial importance for the control of infectious diseases.

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)

Show guidance

Detailed in the guidance below are the requirements relating to the movement of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and poultry into and out of local Agricultural Shows during the 2020 Show season.

Agricultural show guidance 2020


The 6-day whole-farm standstill restriction no longer applies from Monday 4 March 2013. From this date, animals moved onto a holding will not cause movement restrictions for other animals on the holding. This relaxation will allow livestock to move more freely between holdings.

For disease control and animal welfare purposes an animal cannot move to a market if that animal has been in a market in the last 6 days.

Keepers who move cattle, pigs, goats and sheep must comply with the conditions of the revised general movement licence when moving livestock within Northern Ireland.

Application for Animal Group Number

Application and registration of Cattle Herd, Sheep Flock and Goat Herd Registration Numbers.

Northern Ireland Food Animal Information System (NIFAIS)

The Northern Ireland Food Animal Information System (NIFAIS) Programme has been established to procure a replacement for the Animal and Public Health Information System (APHIS), which is DAERA’s primary repository for information on food animals and their keepers and has been in place since 1997.

APHIS currently supports almost all the day-to-day business of Veterinary Service Animal Health Group (VSAHG) and many other areas of the Department. It plays a key role through the Rural Portal and other interfaces in the delivery of electronic services to the livestock and food industry.

Although APHIS has effectively met our needs to date, DAERA is now beginning to procure a replacement ICT solution that will meet its future business and technology requirements and reflect the technological advances and opportunities becoming available now and in the future, NIFAIS will maintain existing business functionality while implementing a technology upgrade in line with NICS ICT strategy and standards. The new system will be flexible, agile and ‘future-proofed’ to ensure DAERA continues to comply with relevant EU animal and public health legislation in the future and support new and more efficient ways of delivering, managing our business in a resource constrained environment.

It is currently anticipated that the development of the new system will begin in early 2016 and be available for users external and internally for late 2018.

NIFAIS customer feedback

We asked our customers for feedback on APHIS and what they would like NIFAIS to do.

We appreciate the input and want to thank all who supplied us with feedback. We welcome your comments and suggestions that might help us to make improvements to our service.

You can contact us by clicking on the following link

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