NLIS Sheep & Goats
Animal Health Australia (AHA) participates in the advisory and standards committees for Australia’s National Livestock Identification Scheme (NLIS) for the sheep and goat industries.
Permanent, whole-of-life identification
NLIS (Sheep & Goats) is Australia’s system for permanently identifying and tracking all sheep and goats through their life. It is managed by NLIS Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary company of Meat & Livestock Australia.
Introduced in 2006, the NLIS (Sheep & Goats) replaced a previous scheme for sheep, known as the National Flock Identification Scheme (NFIS).
Initially, sheep born after 1 January 2006 were required to be ear tagged before leaving their property of birth.
From January 2009, all sheep and farmed goats must be identified with an NLIS-approved ear tag prior to movement. Several Australian states have separate arrangements for the identification of dairy and rangeland goats.
Recording the movement of mobs of sheep or goats between properties on the NLIS database commenced in July 2010.
The NLIS requirements are designed to improve the speed and accuracy of trace-back and trace-forward of sheep and goats.
Ear tags and movement documents
The visually readable ear tag, printed with a property identification code (PIC) and the NLIS logo, stays with the animal for life.
When NLIS ear tags are used in conjunction with a Sheep/Goat National Vendor Declaration (NVD) form or other approved movement document, the NLIS enables trace-back to property of birth or the last property of residence.
Livestock producers must complete a movement document when dispatching sheep or goats of any age to a saleyard, abattoir or another property with a different PIC, and both the vendor and the buyer must keep copies of these forms for 7 years.
Breeder tags are applied on the property of birth before sheep or goats move to another property.
Tags can be colour-coded by year of birth, in a rotating 8-year cycle, to enable visual age identification of animals at a distance. The colour for year of birth is not mandatory, but is strongly recommended.
Post-breeder property tags are applied to sheep or goats no longer on their property of birth, or to introduced animals that have lost their original tag. Post-breeder property tags are always pink.
NLIS (Sheep & Goats) reviews
The effectiveness of the system is subject to ongoing monitoring by industry and government, with a review undertaken during 2007. The aim is to ensure the industry maintains and develops an effective traceability system, at the lowest cost to each industry sector.
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) has been analysing options to improve the system for sheep and goats in 2013–14.