Consultation on the proposed format of Bovine Electronic Identification numbering in NI

Date published: 26 June 2019

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has published a consultation seeking views on a proposal for a new cattle tag numbering regime, as part of the preparatory work for the potential introduction of bovine electronic identification (bovine EID).


Currently, cattle in Northern Ireland are identified with plastic tags, with a visible, printed number on display. The Department is exploring the possibility of moving to electronic identification, which may enable cattle movements to be recorded or verified, removing the need for manual transcription.

However, the current cattle numbering regime in Northern Ireland does not support the implementation of bovine EID as the format and structure of the current number is not compliant with international standards. Agreeing and implementing a new identification number for cattle will be the first step in preparing for the introduction of bovine EID.

Announcing the publication of the consultation document a DAERA spokesperson said: “The Department has been examining the potential use of electronic tags for the identification of cattle following the success of the introduction of sheep EID in NI from 2010.

“The Department has been in discussion with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), along with the other Devolved Administrations in the UK, regarding the roll out of bovine EID and all four administrations support the aim of achieving common standards, which includes agreeing the format of the animal identification number to be used for the animal tags which forms part of the bovine EID.

“With the appropriate infrastructure in place, EID can simplify the way all bovine events, including movements, are recorded, unlocking faster processes, as well as maintaining and improving NI’s standing as a region with a robust traceability regime.

“The current animal identification numbering will not, however, permit us to use bovine EID. Therefore, it is now appropriate to consider changing the numbering format and this consultation sets out two options for a new EID number. We are keen to get feedback from all key stakeholders, particularly farmers, markets and those involved in the meat processing industry.

The outcome of this consultation on the numbering format will be the first step towards allowing the Department to take forward bovine EID policy with an agreed direction and certainty.”

Download the consultation document from the DAERA website.

The consultation will close at 16:00 hours on 16 August 2019.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Follow DAERA on Twitter and Facebook.
  2. All media queries should be directed to the DAERA Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or via email. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer on 028 9037 8110.

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