NLIS and identification - goats

Page last updated: Wednesday, 10 October 2018 - 1:21pm

Goats in Western Australia are required to be identified by the age of six months or before they leave the property of birth, whichever occurs first.

A National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) tag of the correct year colour is used to identify goats on the property of birth and an NLIS pink tag is used to identify goats brought onto the property. NLIS tags must be imprinted with the registered brand or the property identification code (PIC) of the current owner.

Movement of goats to a property with a different PIC requires a waybill and must be recorded on the NLIS database.

Goat owners must register as an owner of stock

All goat owners must be registered as an owner of stock and have a current PIC for the property where their animals are kept. Your registered identifiers (stock brand, earmark and pig tattoo) are on the PIC card that is sent out to you when to you register.

For more information see:
• Livestock ownership, identification and movement in Western Australia
• Registering as an owner of stock
• Application for registration as an owner of stock

Goats must be identified under the BAM (IMSA) regulations

Identifying your livestock assists in tracing disease, deterring theft and recovering stolen animals. It is also required by law under the Biosecurity and Agriculture Management (Identification and Movement of Stock and Apiaries) [BAM(IMSA)] Regulations 2013. The regulations require compliance with the NLIS. Goats must have the correct NLIS identification and their movements to a property with a different PIC must be recorded on the NLIS database.

Identification requirements

South West Land Division:

Goats in the South West Land Division must be identified with the owner’s registered earmark, or an accredited NLIS tag or device, or with an approved identifier by the age of six months or before they leave their property of birth, whichever occurs first. Goats must have an NLIS tag bearing the registered brand or PIC of the current owner before leaving any property. Using an NLIS tag to identify goats within the age and movement timeframe is the simplest way to satisfy both of these requirements and minimise handling.

Outside the South West Land Division:

Goats outside the South West Land Division in WA are not required to be tagged while on the property of birth if they are managed goats, or property of capture if they are rangeland goats. Tagging to leave the property is also not required if they are being moved from the property of birth or capture to a neighbouring property or direct to slaughter. If moving untagged goats, you must keep them separate from any other stock and the documentation (waybills) for untagged goats must relate only to stock moving under these conditions.

Movement from outside the South West Land Division into the agricultural areas requires full compliance with correct NLIS identification, an NVD waybill and updating of the NLIS database.

Any other movement circumstances require that the goats be tagged with the appropriate NLIS tags before movement unless under the direction or permit of an inspector. As with all movement, a national vendor declaration (NVD) waybill and updating of the NLIS database  is required.

NLIS tags – property of birth

An NLIS year of birth coloured tag is to be fitted to goats on the property of birth to the correct ear according to gender. Females are to be tagged in their right ear and males in their left. The approved colour sequence for birth years is illustrated below. The range of accredited NLIS tags available to buy can be seen on the following Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) webpage: NLIS accredited devices.

Year colour chart for sheep and goat NLIS ear tags

NLIS tags - introduced goats

If you buy goats or bring goats onto your property, they need to be pink tagged with your brand before they move off that property, even if it is to another property you own. It is advisable to pink tag on arrival to assist in identification if animals stray.

If introduced goats have electronic tags and you wish to use this identification, they need to be scanned and transferred to your PIC on the NLIS database. Keep a record of the PIC on the electronic tags, as they will be needed to complete any future waybills. If the electronic tags were not fitted on your property, the PIC on those tags must be recorded on every waybill. If you choose not to use the existing electronic tags, you must fit pink NLIS tags to those goats.

If introduced goats do not have an NLIS tag, identify them  with your pink tag in the correct ear according to gender and within 14 days of arrival at your property.

The range of accredited NLIS tags that you can purchase can be seen on the following MLA webpage: NLIS accredited devices.

It is illegal to remove or replace NLIS tags.

PIC or brand on your NLIS tags?

Owners considering using their PIC on their visual tags must be aware that if they move their stock between their registered properties that have different PICs e.g. agistment blocks, they will have to re-tag those animals according to PIC of location. Using the brand on the visual tags means that re-tagging is only necessary when the stock are moved to a property with a different brand. In most cases, this means when they are sold to a new owner. This is the cheapest and least time-consuming option.

NLIS accredited radio frequency identifier (RFID) devices, also known as electronic tags, are available for use. These tags have the PIC of the property they are purchased for on the outside of the tag as part of an individual 16 character identification number. They can only be fitted to stock on this property.

When goats fitted with an electronic tag are moved, the RFID is scanned by a reader and its details are used to record the movement on the NLIS database and update ownership details. No additional tags are required. If an owner chooses not to use existing electronic identification on stock they purchase, they must then tag those animals with a pink NLIS visual tag showing their brand.

NLIS tags must be purchased from an accredited manufacturer. For a list of NLIS accredited tags, see the MLA webpage: NLIS accredited tags – goats.

Registered stock brand

Your registered brand consists of two letters and a number. One of the letters may be ‘lazy’, that is, laying on its side to the left. Your brand can be printed on your NLIS eartags to indicate ownership. Using your brand on your NLIS tags means that goats only need to be re-tagged when ownership changes, and not with a change in PIC.


Your earmark is a combination of two shaped notches taken out of the ear. The registered earmark must be placed in the left ear for females and the right ear for males, and in the correct locations on the ear as illustrated on your registration certificate. Should you choose to earmark your goats, apply the earmark exactly as described on the certificate. The appearance will alter if it is applied to the ear from a different position, e.g. from behind the ear instead of from the front. This will not be your legal earmark.

Livestock should only be earmarked once in their life, if necessary at all. Approved earmarking pliers must be used.


  • NLIS tags imprinted with a specific PIC or brand can only be applied to animals while on the property/ies registered to that PIC unless a permit has been issued by an inspector.
  • NLIS tags cannot be taken to a saleyard or similar facilities to be applied to goats unless a permit has been issued by an inspector.
  • It is illegal to remove or replace NLIS tags.
  • Equipment for applying an earmark must not be removed from the property/ies with the PIC they are registered to without a permit from the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia.
  • All identification equipment including tags can be purchased through rural suppliers.

Rangeland goat depots

Properties outside the South West Land Division operating as a rangeland goat depot have a standard operating manual that must be adhered to. Compliance with operating procedures provides access to permission to receive untagged captured goats for subsequent direct consignment to an abattoir. The manual outlines all requirements for movement documentation, database uploads and the auditing procedure to operate as a depot. Please contact 1300 WA NLIS (1300 926 547) for further information.

Contact information

Beth Green
+61 (0)8 9780 6159