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Irish Bovine Animal Identification System - Overview

The aim of the Bovine Animal Identification System is to guarantee the safety of beef and beef products by the operation of an effective animal identification and tracing system. The system has four elements: tagging, bovine passport, on-farm bovine herd registers and a computerised database.

The important aspects of each of the elements of identification are as follows:

  • Tagging
    The tagging system requires the application by the keeper of two identically numbered yellow plastic eartags to all calves born on a holding within twenty days of birth. Keepers are obliged to order their annual requirement of eartags directly from the tag supplier approved by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. They do this by completing the tag order card sent to them by the approved tag supplier and returning it with the appropriate fee. On application of a pair of tags to a calf, the keeper must complete a corresponding and identically numbered registration application form, which is supplied with each pair of tags.
  • Registration and Passports
    Keepers are required to register the birth of each calf on a central birth registration database. This can be done by registering the calf birth online or by completing the registration application form [received with the tags] and sending it within seven days of tagging the calf to the registration agency appointed by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. On receipt of a completed and valid registration application, the registration agency issues the keeper with a passport for the animal concerned. This passport must accompany the animal each time it is moved. All movements of the animal throughout its life must be recorded on the passport.
  • Bovine Herd Registers
    Keepers of cattle are required to maintain a herd register of all bovine animals on their holdings. The herd register must be kept up-to-date and must record information in relation to all calves born on the holding together with details of all animals entering or leaving the herd and of animal deaths on the holding.
  • Animal Identification and Movement (AIM) System
    The AIM system is a database which records all bovine birth, movements and disposals. The system captures details of all animal movements and this information is used to verify the origin, identity and life history of cattle entering the food chain. It is also used to check compliance of cattle with eligibility criteria of the Single Payment Scheme. The AIM system can also be used to assist in the identification and tracing of bovines that may have come in contact with infectious diseases, for veterinary certification and to provide statistical information in respect of the cattle sector.


Keepers of cattle are obliged to notify the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine of the movement of cattle to and from their holdings. In the case of cattle sold privately, the source keeper must obtain a Certificate of Compliance from the Cattle Movement Notification Agency or on-line from the Department's website prior to the movement of any animal off the holding. Both the source and destination keepers must confirm within 7 days of the event that the movement has taken place. Keepers must also notify the Department of on-farm deaths.


A number of on-line facilities are available under the AIM system that allows farmers to:

  • register calf births;
  • apply for a Certificate of Compliance (to move cattle direct from farm to farm), from mid 2010 a farmer will be able to print the Certificate of Compliance from a home PC and printer;
  • check cattle in the herd according to the AIM database;
  • verify that movements in and out of the herd have been recorded on the system;
  • view the life history of individual animals until they leave the herd; and
  • view the most recent TB and Brucellosis test dates for animals in the herd.

Farmers must register with the Department's facility to avail of the on-line services, which are available free of charge. This can be done by clicking on the Agfood icon on the Department's website and following the simple instructions. Farmers can also contact the eService Helpdesk (lo-call number 1890 252 118) to register over the phone or to obtain a paper application.