Legal Documents & Paperwork - a guide to registering your cattle

belted-gallowayCattle - a guide to registering your livestock

County Parish Number (CPH)

  • Obtain a County Parish Number (CPH) for your land if it does not already have one (before you move animals on to the land) – contact the Rural Payments Agency - - click on the customer registration page.


  • You will need to register you cattle with your regional Animal Health & Veterinary Laboratory Agency (AVHLA), who will issue you with a herd mark


  • All cattle born after 1st January 1998 have to be identified with an ear tag in each ear (cattle born before this date may have a single tag).
  • You must fit ear tags with 20 days of birth, with the exception of dairy cattle, which must have at least one tag fitted within 36 hours of birth.
  • All animals must be tagged before they leave their holding of birth.
  • Replace all removed, lost or illegible tags within 28 days.
  • You must not remove or replace tags without permission from the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS), unless they are lost or illegible.

Herd Register

  • You must keep detailed herd records which contain the following for each animal: ear tag number, date of birth, breed and sex, dam ear tag number, movements on and off your holding, details of where it's moved from and to, date of death.

Cattle Passports

  • All cattle born or imported since 1st July 1996 must have a valid cattle passport.
  • Applications must be received by the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) within 27 days of birth. You will need a full single page passport before a calf is moved.

Cattle deaths

All have to be reported to the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) within 7 days - either electronically or by filling out the death detail section of the passport.


Terms explained

County Parish Holding number (CPH)
If you wish to keep livestock (does not apply to poultry) on your land (even as pets), you must apply for an agricultural holding number if the land does not already have one. The CPH number includes any land that is within five miles of the main site. You will need separate numbers for any land that you rent / own that is more than five miles away from your own main site. If you rent land and the owner will not let you get a permanent CPH number, you may be able to apply for a temporary one. Land must be registered within one month of first keeping animals there.
The CPH is a nine-digit number – the first two digits relate to the county, the next three relate to the parish, and the last four are a unique number to the keeper. Once you have this number, you may move livestock on to your smallholding under a general licence. You must then register your livestock with DEFRA.
To apply for a number, you have to contact the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) Customer Service Centre on 0845 603 7777

Holding register (or flock / herd record)
A required document that records all of your sheep / goats – births / deaths / purchases / sales / losses / movements along with serial numbers of Movement Documents.
Each record commences on 1st December each year. An annual return is to be completed each year and returned to DEFRA or DARD for Northern Ireland (Department of Agriculture and Rural Development – 5th January.
Each register covers all animals on a single smallholding. You must have a separate register for each holding where you keep animals.

Rural Payments Agency
An agency of DEFRA – Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The RPA services include, making rural payments, carrying out rural inspections, and livestock tracing. You must contact the RPA in you wish to apply for an agricultural holding (CPH) number.
Customer Service Centre - 0845 603 7777
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. It manages the following areas:
- climate change
- environmental protection
- exports and trade
- farming
- marine and fisheries
- food and drink
- horticulture
- plants and seeds
- research and analysis
- rural affairs
- sustainable development
- wildlife and countryside
DEFRA requires the precise location of all livestock to ensure an effective control system in the event of a disease outbreak. You must register your livestock with DEFRA. You can do this by phone – all the phone numbers for the local animal health offices (Animal Health Divisional Office) are available on the DEFRA website. Once you have registered, a flock / herd number will be created.

Flock / herd number
Once you have registered your livestock with AVHLA, a flock / herd number will be created. Numbers for sheep and goats are six digits, while numbers for pigs are one or two letters followed by four digits. The Animal Health Divisional Office will send you a registration document containing your details, agricultural holding (CPH) number, and flock / herd number.

Movement document – ARAMS1 form for sheep & goats / online eAML2 system for pigs / passports for cattle
Keepers must compete a movement document when animals are moved between two holdings
If you are taking your animals to a show, a separate movement document must be completed for the journey there, and the return journey – you have to send the forms to the Animal Reporting and Movements Service (ARAMS).

Annual inventory
The section of the holding register where you must record the total number of animals on your smallholding on December 1 each year

Trading Standards
Trading standards offers guidance on many aspects of smallholding / farming – transportation, slaughter, tagging etc.

County Animal Health Office
A division of DEFRA through which you must register all livestock – all contact details are available on the DEFRA website -

Transportation of livestock by road
Any transportation of livestock off your holding must be accompanied by a movement document (or passport for cattle). All livestock must have valid identification (ear tags etc).
- You must ensure that your livestock are fit to travel, and that the vehicle / trailer for transport is not likely to cause injury or unnecessary suffering. The vehicle / trailer must also be capable of being cleansed and disinfected (this must be done within 24 hours and before it is used again).
- Animals should be checked during the journey and the journey time kept to a minimum.
- Any persons handling the animals during transport must be trained or competent and do not use violence or cause any unnecessary fear, injury or suffering.
- Water, feed, rest when needed, and sufficient floor space and height should be given to the animals during transport.
- Extra consideration should be taken when transporting animals in hot weather – improved ventilation / increased space allowance / provide water
- Contingency plans should be in place for every journey in case of delays
If you are going to be transporting livestock over 65km (40 miles) and not for more than eight hours, you must have a Short Journey Certificate. If the journey is to be over 65km and for longer than eight hours, then you must have a Long Journey Certificate.

Medication records
You must keep records of all vaccinations, medication and treatment each animal has had.

National Fallen Stock Scheme
Run by the National Fallen Stock Company (NFSCo) –
If any of your livestock die (fallen stock), it is illegal to bury or burn them on your smallholding / farm due to the risk of disease spreading through groundwater or air pollution.
You can either source an approved collector yourself or join the NFSCo (A not for profit organisation). By joining the scheme, you are given a list of local approved collectors and their prices. When you have fallen stock, you then contact one of the local collectors as soon as possible to arrange a collection time. You then receive a monthly invoice from the NFSCo detailing the collection cost and the NFSCo administration fee.)

Animal Transport Certificate
Required if you are transporting vertebrate animals other than cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and unregistered horses on journeys of more than eight hours between EU member states or third countries. An Animal Transport Certificate is to be completed for each journey (downloadable from DEFRA - and retained for six months. As an alternative, you may record the information in another format such as a delivery note or an animal movement licence.


Sources of information:


Rural Payments Agency
Customer Service Centre - 0845 603 7777

British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS)

DARD (Department of Agriculture and Rural Development) (Northern Ireland)

Trading Standards

National Fallen Stock Scheme
National Fallen Stock Company (NFSCo) –

Animal Reporting and Movements Service (ARAMS)
Animal Reporting and Movements Service, SouthWestern, PO Box 6299, Milton Keynes MK10 1ZQ