Your tagging responsibilities

As a Person in Charge of Animals (PICA) you must:

  • tag your animals with NAIT-approved tags that are in the correct place on their ear, and issued for your NAIT location
  • register the animals in NAIT against the tag number you applied to their ear
  • check that every animal that must have a tag has one, and replace it if it's lost or damaged
  • keep the details of each animal's tag up to date in NAIT.

Animals that need tags

All cattle and deer must be tagged and registered — it's a 2-step process, although there are some exceptions. You still need a NAIT location number even if you don't have to tag your animals.

You don't need to tag:

  • calves sent direct to slaughter
  • fallow deer
  • animals born at a game estate, safari park, or zoo
  • animals that are too dangerous to tag.

When to tag your animals

You must tag and register cattle and deer within 180 days of their birth or before their first off-farm movement, whichever comes first. It's an offence to move untagged and unregistered animals off your property.

Types of tags

Some tags you can read visually and others, including NAIT-approved tags, you read with an electronic scanner.

NAIT-approved tags

Tags approved for use by NAIT are radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. They store information on a microchip inside the tag.

Graphic of an animal eartag

There are 2 types of tags:

  • birth tags for animals born on your farm — these can come as a birth set:
    • an RFID tag you read with a scanner, and
    • a matching panel tag you can read visually, making it easier to identify your animals
  • replacement tags — for animals that lost their birth tag.

White tags are for cattle and orange tags are for deer.

Other tags

There are other types of tags used for farm management, including:

  • visual panel tags to help with identifying your stock
  • if you have bobby calves, direct-to-slaughter tags issued by a meat processor
  • Animal Health Board (AHB) tags — these are no longer needed but don't remove them if any of your animals have one
  • TB tags — these are applied through our TBfree programme to animals that:
    • have a positive skin test for bovine TB, or
    • test negative, but are being moved from a herd infected with TB.

How to tag animals correctly

NAIT-approved RFID tags come in 2 parts — a female and male part. The male part sits behind the ear and the female part sits in front.

Follow the manufacturer's instructions and apply the tags to:

  • the right ear — this helps meat processors and saleyards who usually set up their scanners to record from the right side of the animal
  • the central or inner part of the ear between the 2 veins.

The image shows how a tag can be placed in a cow's ear. There are 4 pictures - the first shows a tag correctly placed in the inner part of the ear, alongside 3 other images showing that the tag shouldn't be placed at the edge of the ear.

If you apply the tags correctly they are less likely to be lost or damaged.

Recording the tag information

After you've tagged your animals, you need to register them in NAIT. While you're tagging them, it can be helpful to note:

  • the number printed on each tag or the scanned RFID numbers
  • the animal production type — beef, dairy or deer
  • the animal's birth date — month and year
  • the sex of the animal, although this is optional.

Moving to a new farm

You can only use tags for the NAIT location you bought them for (unless they have a dairy participant code printed on them). You can't reassign them to, or share them with, another NAIT location. This means if you move you can't take them with you, and you can't lend or sell them to another PICA.

Lost or damaged tags

If cattle or deer lose their tag, damage it, or arrive at your farm without one, you need to tag them again. If you know the original tag number you can link the old tag with the new one in NAIT to keep the animal's history. If not, you must register the animal again.

Reporting problems with tags

Contact us if you have problems with your tags. For example, you may find they:

  • don't last well
  • become difficult to read
  • won't stay in your animals' ears.