National Livestock Identification System (NLIS)

NLIS is Australia’s system for identifying livestock with a permanent device designed to remain with the animal for life. NLIS was introduced in 1999 for the beef industry. In 2009, NLIS was extended to the sheep and goat industries.

NLIS reflects Australia’s commitment to biosecurity and food safety and provides a competitive advantage in a global market.

NLIS is endorsed by all major livestock producer, feedlot, agent, saleyard and processor industry bodies.

Sheepmeat Council of Australia is a member of the NLIS Advisory Committee which makes decisions about the traceability of sheep in Australia. Sheepmeat Council has input into the policy underpinning traceability of sheep in Australia and makes decisions that best benefit the nations’ sheepmeat producers.

Funding for NLIS is derived from transaction levies, industry contributions and government grants. NLIS combines three elements to enable lifetime traceability of animals:
• an animal identifier (a visual or electronic tag known as a device)
• identification of a physical location by means of a Property
Identification Code (PIC)
• a web-accessible database to store and correlate movement data

As animals move along the supply chain, each movement is recorded centrally so that animals can be traced as required by National Traceability Performance Standards. When animals move to a location with a different PIC, they must be accompanied by a movement document. This can take various forms. The National Vendor Declaration (NVD) or Waybill is the most common. If the vendor’s PIC is accredited under the LPA system, an LPA NVD/Waybill is used.

The visual tag mob-based national system is a practical, low cost and effective solution for national sheep traceability in Australia and when used in conjunction with a Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) NVD will meet domestic and export market requirements.

To access information about how to use the NLIS please click here

National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS)- October 2013

Click here to read SCA’s submission to the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS). (December 6 2013)

The Standing Council on Primary Industries (SCoPI) released a report in February 2013 into the feasibility of establishing a mandatory electronic tag system for sheep and goats. The report did not discuss the merits of individual electronic tagging but concluded:
“. . . There are no insurmountable barriers to commencing the phased implementation of an electronic NLIS (sheep and goats) system from 1 January 2014 in line with the recommended timetable, however for this to occur there will need to be a substantial investment of resources and funding.”

Following this report a decision was made to release a Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS). This RIS was released in October 2013.

We believe that the release of this RIS is unnecessary and will only serve to divert attention from the essential task of improving National Vendor Declaration (NVD) compliance. It is time to move on from this debate on RFID and instead focus our efforts on ensuring the current system continues to work well.

An NLIS system which meets national traceability standards is vital to the sheep industry but this is being achieved through the visual mob based system. We support producers who wish to use radio-frequency identification (RFID) as a management tool, but without any clear benefits to biosecurity and traceability, imposing unnecessary additional expense is unacceptable. As long as sheep and goats are tagged and accompanied by the appropriate NVD forms then biosecurity and traceability requirements will be met.

Click here to read the (October 2013) ABARES Report ‘Implementation of improvements to the National Livestock Identification System for sheep and goats: Consultation regulation impact statement’

SCA will be making a submission on this vital industry issue. We also encourage producers to provide their feedback to government on the NLIS Regulatory Impact Statement. Submissions close Friday, 6 December 2013.


National Livestock Identification (Sheep & Goats) – Changes from July 1st 2010

From 1 July 2010 all movements of sheep and goats to a property with a different Property Identification Code (PIC) will need to be recorded on the NLIS database. This includes movements to agistment properties, regardless of who owns or leases those properties. Owners will not need to record a mob-based movement on the database if they buy or sell sheep through a saleyard, send them direct to an abattoir, feedlot or export depot, or exhibit them at a show, as it will be done for them.

2010 JuneSGv2 NLIS Fact Sheet (Jun 10)

NLIS helps to quickly contain a major food safety or disease incident and enhances Australia’s ability to maintain access to key export markets. It is being implemented by industry in partnership with governments across Australia.

Electronic tags, commonly referred to as Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID’s) are not required to maintain access to key export markets. However, they are a useful management tool that producers may choose to adopt for their specific operations.

It’s important that producers:

1. Have a Property Identification Code (PIC) – contact your local agriculture department

2. Tag all sheep and lambs before leaving their property of birth, irrespective of age and how they are sold, with a visually readable ear tag. This is a mandatory requirement(from1 January 2009).

3. Use an appropiate movement document (ie. NVD) when sending sheep or goats to a saleyard, abattoir or another property.

4. Use a pink Post-breeder tag:

•to replace missing tags on sheep and goats no longer on their property of birth.

•if you opt not to record on your movement document all the different PICs on tags on sheep or goats being moved.

Note: changes will soon occur to the requirements of use of post-breeder tags. Information will be made available.

5. Do not remove an NLIS Sheep/Goat tag once it is attahced until the animal is processed in an abattoir.

SCA recommends producers to consider using the “year of birth” colour system for breeder tags.

Please note: NLIS Advisory Committee continues to work with government and industry to further strengthen the ability to effectively trace the movement of sheep.