Animal health and welfare


If you intend keeping cattle including as pets you must:

  1. Register with your local Rural Payment and Inspections Directorate (RPID) office who will allocate a County Parish Holding (CPH) number if you have not already got one
  2. Inform your local Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), who will provide you with a herd mark for your holding.  This herd mark will enable you to buy ear tags
  3. Inform the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) that you are going to be keeping cattle, they will then record your details on the Cattle Tracing System (CTS) and send you information

Identification and traceability

Cattle identification and traceability is vital to enable efficient and effective disease control and to protect public health. In the event of a disease outbreak, it is important that movements can be traced easily from birth to death. To make sure this level of traceability is achieved, all cattle must be correctly identified and issued with a corresponding passport in accordance with current legislation.

It is a legislative requirement that keepers of cattle must record in their holding register details of all cattle births, deaths and movements on and off the holding.

Moving cattle

All movements of cattle must be reported to The British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) within 3 days. There are a few exceptions, for example for veterinary treatment.

Linked holdings

If you have one or more holdings that have different County Parish Holding numbers from your main holding, it is possible to set up a linked holding, this is done by contacting British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS).  Movements of cattle between linked holdings does not need to be reported to BCMS but must be recorded in the farm register.

See our guidance on:

The Scottish Government also provides information on livestock identification and traceability

Cattle born before 1996

Cattle born before 1 August 1996 cannot be moved without a licence, even if the movement is between linked premises. For details of obtaining a licence contact your local APHA office.

See our guidance on: