How do you read a NLIS tag?

How do you read a NLIS tag?

When it comes to livestock management, NLIS (National Livestock Identification System) tags play a crucial role in tracking and tracing animals. NLIS tags are specifically designed to provide unique identification for individual animals, ensuring their health and safety. In order to understand and utilize this system effectively, it is important to know how to read an NLIS tag.

An NLIS tag consists of several components, including visual identification, an electronic chip, and a barcode. The visual identification helps visually identify the animal, while the electronic chip stores important information about the animal. The barcode provides a quick and efficient way to scan and retrieve data from the tag.

To read an NLIS tag, a reader device is required. The process involves preparing the reader, positioning it correctly, and scanning the NLIS tag. The information retrieved from the tag includes the animal identification number, farm code, country code, and the date and time of tagging. This information is crucial for livestock management, disease control, and traceability.

There are some common challenges when reading NLIS tags. Tag misplacement, where the tag is not in its intended position, can make it difficult to read. Tag malfunction, where the electronic chip is not working properly, can also pose a challenge. reader compatibility issues can arise when different reader devices are used.

1. NLIS tags enable visual identification of animals, with electronic chips and barcodes used for automatic tracking. 2. NLIS tags are important for recording animal movement and ensuring food safety and traceability. 3. Reading an NLIS tag involves preparing and positioning the reader, then scanning the tag for identification information. 4. Information from an NLIS tag includes the animal identification, farm and country codes, and tagging date and time. 5. Challenges when reading NLIS tags can include tag misplacement, tag malfunction, and reader compatibility. 6. NLIS tags play a crucial role in enhancing transparency and accountability in the livestock industry.

What is an NLIS Tag?

"What is an NLIS Tag?

An NLIS tag is a unique identification tag used in the UK to track livestock. It stands for the National Livestock Identification System. NLIS tags are small electronic tags that are typically attached to the animal's ear. These tags contain a microchip that stores essential information, such as the animal's identification number and the owner's details.

The traceability of livestock in the UK heavily relies on these tags. They play a crucial role in monitoring animal movements and ensuring prompt identification and location during disease outbreaks or emergencies. The NLIS systemeffectively manages and tracks livestock, ultimately improving food safety and animal welfare.

Certain livestock, like cattle and sheep, are required by law to have an NLIS tag in the UK. It is the responsibility of farmers and other livestock keepers to correctly tag and register the tags in the NLIS database.

Fun fact: The NLIS system was introduced in the UK in 1998 with the aim of enhancing livestock traceability and disease control in agriculture."

Why are NLIS Tags Used?

NLIS tags are used within the agricultural sector for numerous significant purposes. In the first instance, they are utilized to oversee the movements of individual animals, ensuring the traceability required for disease control and food safety. By precisely monitoring animals, potential outbreaks can be swiftly identified and contained, reducing the risk to both animaland human health.

NLIS tags maintain comprehensive records containing vital information pertaining to each animal, including its breed, age, and medical history. These records play a pivotal role in the management of animal health and welfare, as well as in making informed decisions regarding breeding and overall management practices.

NLIS tags assist in enhancing industry efficiency and productivity. By utilizing these tags, farmers gain a better understanding of their livestock, enabling them to optimize feeding regimes and implement targeted breeding programs. This, in turn, can result in improved growth rates, higher-quality meat, and increased profitability.

Components of an NLIS Tag

NLIS tags are essential for livestock tracking and management. In this section, we'll uncover the inner workings of these tags, focusing on their key components. From visual identification to electronic chips and barcodes, we'll explore how each element contributes to the effectiveness of NLIS tags. So, grab your curiosity by the horns as we dive into the fascinating world of NLIS tag components!

1. Visual Identification

The aspect of visual identification is crucial in identifying and tracking animals using an NLIS tag. This aspect includes a visual identification marker and various other elements. Let's refer to the table below to understand the functions of different columns:

Column Function
1. Tag colour Visually distinguishes animals
2. Farm logo or code Indicates farm or property origin
3. Animal identification number Uniquely identifies each animal
4. Country code Signifies country of origin or tag issuing


The NLIS tags have visual identification markers that enable easy recognition and tracking of animals, facilitating their management and traceability. Farmers can visually identify and segregate animals based on tag colour, while the farm logo or code provides information about the animal's specific origin. Each individual animal is assigned a unique animal identification number, ensuring precise recording of data and efficient tracking. The country code denotes the country of tag issuance or the animal's origin.

Examining the visual identification components of an NLIS tag highlights the crucial role they play in effectively identifying and tracking animals for various agricultural purposes.

2. Electronic Chip

The electronic chip in an NLIS tag is responsible for holding important data about animals. This data includes the identification number, farm code, and country code. The chip utilizes RFID technology, which allows for easy scanning and reading. What makes the chip even more impressive is its small size and strong construction. It doesn't need a separate power source to function properly. It is capable of withstanding various environmental conditions, such as temperature and moisture changes.

It's worth noting that the chip has a specific range for reading, and this range depends on the chip and reader that are used. Speaking of its functionality, the chip plays a crucial role in the NLIS system. It ensures that animal information is recorded accurately and efficiently. This, in turn, enables smooth identification and tracking, benefiting both farmers and regulatory authorities.

3. Barcode

The barcode is an essential component of NLIS tags as it provides a unique code for each animal. It contains data that is utilized for tracing and overseeing livestock. The barcode is made up of vertical lines that represent alphanumeric characters.

To exhibit the data within the barcode, an HTML table with two columns should be created. The first column should include the barcode number, while the second column should display the animal or farm details.

For instance:

Barcode Number Animal Details
123456789 Cow #1, Farm A
987654321 Sheep #2, Farm B

Scanning the barcode with a reader allows for quick access to the encoded data. Each barcode corresponds to a specific animal's ID, which greatly aids in tracing movements, health records, and ownership details.

Accurate scanning requires proper placement and orientation. The reader emits a beam of light that reflects off the barcode, enabling the decoding and retrieval of data.

The barcode serves as a valuable tool in the NLIS system as it facilitates efficient identification and management of livestock. It streamlines processes such as tracing animal origins, disease monitoring, and regulatory compliance. Farmers and authorities can easily access the necessary details for each animal using the barcode.

How to Read an NLIS Tag?

Get ready to decode the mysterious NLIS tag! In this section, we'll guide you through the process of reading an NLIS tag step by step. From prepping the reader to scanning the tag, we've got you covered. Say goodbye to confusion and hello to clarity as we unravel the secrets of successfully reading an NLIS tag.

Step 1: Prepare the Reader

The first step in reading an NLIS tag is to prepare the reader.

Step 1: Make sure the reader is fully charged or has fresh batteries.

Step 2: Confirm that the reader is compatible with the type of NLIS tag you are using.

Step 3: Ensure that the reader is in proper working condition.

Step 4: Adjust any settings on the reader according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Step 5: Position yourself in a suitable location with clear visibility of the NLIS tag on the animal.

Pro-tip: Regularly check and maintain your reader to ensure accurate scanning of NLIS tags. Keeping the reader clean and in good working condition reduces the likelihood of scanning errors.

Step 2: Position the Reader

To prepare the reader for reading an NLIS tag, please follow these steps:

1. Place the reader near the NLIS tag to make the electronic chip easier to read.

2. Position the reader directly in front of the tag for the best signal strength and accuracy. Step 2: Position the Reader

3. Keep the reader steady and at a consistent distance from the tag to maintain a stable connection and avoid reading errors.

4. Avoid any objects that could obstruct the communication between the reader and the tag, as this may cause difficulties in reading.

5. Check the reader's display or interface to confirm successful tag detection and ensure that the reader is positioned effectively.

By following these steps, you will be able to accurately and reliably read the information stored in an NLIS tag.

Step 3: Scan the NLIS Tag

When scanning an NLIS tag, please follow these steps:

1. Prepare the reader: Please make sure that the reader device is turned on and functioning correctly. Check the battery level or connection if needed.

2. Position the reader: Hold the reader device close enough to the NLIS tag for a successful scan. Stay within the recommended scanning range for optimal results.

3. Scan the NLIS tag: Once the reader is in position, press the scan button or trigger on the device. The reader will emit a signal that reads the electronic chip within the NLIS tag and retrieves the encoded information.

By following these steps, you will be able to easily scan an NLIS tag and access the relevant information about the tagged animal.

In a similar situation, farmer John needed to scan NLIS tags on his cattle. He followed the mentioned steps to scan each tag and record the necessary data. By doing so, John was able to maintain accurate records of his herd, track their movements, and comply with animal traceability regulations. The ease of scanning NLIS tags helped to streamline his record-keeping process, saving him time and effort in managing his cattle.

Interpreting the Information from an NLIS Tag

When it comes to understanding the information embedded in an NLIS tag, there's more than meets the eye. In this section, we'll unravel the secrets hidden within these tags and explore the vital details they provide. From the unique Animal Identification Number to the Farm Code, Country Code, and even the Date and Time of Tagging, each sub-section holds crucial information that helps track and monitor livestock. Let's dive deep into the world of NLIS tags and decode their valuable insights.

1. Animal Identification Number

Animal Identification Number is a crucial part of NLIS tags. It serves as a unique and permanent identifier for each animal, allowing for accurate record-keeping and tracking throughout its life. The Animal Identification Number, such as 123456789, is linked to specific details about the animal, including breed and date of birth.

Having a distinct Animal Identification Number greatly facilitates tracking of movements, monitoring of health and welfare, and maintaining accurate records for breeding and livestock management. This information plays a vital role in disease management, food safety, and maintaining quality standards in the livestock industry.

When reading an NLIS tag, it is important to pay attention to the Animal Identification Number, as it provides specific information about the individual animal. This number is essential for ensuring traceability and effective management of livestock, contributing to the overall safety and efficiency of the industry.

2. Farm Code

To comprehend an NLIS tag, it is indispensable to grasp the farm code. Here is a step-by-step manual on how to understand the farm code:

  1. Locate the farm code on the NLIS tag.
  2. Thoroughly examine the farm code to identify the alphanumeric characters that represent the specific farm.
  3. Validate the accuracy of the farm code by cross-referencing it with the records or databases associated with the NLIS system.
  4. Acknowledge that the farm code serves as a distinctive identifier for the farm where the tagged animal originated.
  5. Comprehend that the farm code plays a vital role in traceability, aiding authorities in tracking the movement and origin of animals for disease control and food safety.
  6. Bear in mind that each individual farm participating in the NLIS program is assigned a farm code to ensure precise and efficient tracking of animals.
  7. Take note that any modifications in the farm code may necessitate updates in the NLIS system and relevant records to uphold data integrity.

By comprehending the farm code on an NLIS tag, stakeholders can effortlessly identify the farm of origin and ensure effective traceability within the livestock industry.

3. Country Code

The Country Code plays a crucial role in NLIS tags as it serves as a key element. It is responsible for identifying the country where the animal was tagged. This internationally recognized and standardized two-letter code allows for easy identification and traceability of animals across borders.

NLIS tags typically display the Country Code alongside other important information, such as the Animal Identification Number and Farm Code.

To provide an example structure of an NLIS tag:

Animal ID Farm Code Country Code
12345 ABC123 AU

In the provided example, the Country Code "AU" represents Australia. This specific tag indicates that the animal with the ID number 12345 originated from a farm with the code ABC123 in Australia.

The inclusion of Country Codes in NLIS tags is crucial for maintaining accurate records and facilitating animal tracking within and between countries. These codes ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and promote effective disease control and management.

Over time, Country Codes in animal identification systems have played a significant role in enhancing overall efficiency and effectiveness of livestock management, especially in facilitating international trade.

4. Date and Time of Tagging

When reading an NLIS tag, pay attention to the date and time of tagging. This provides valuable information about the animal's movements and history. Here's how to interpret the date and time information from an NLIS tag:

  1. Prepare the Reader: Calibrate and ensure your reader is functioning correctly to capture accurate tag information.

  2. Position the Reader: Hold the reader close to the NLIS tag in a steady position to read the embedded data.

  3. Scan the NLIS Tag: Activate the reader and scan the tag to retrieve the stored information.

Interpreting the Information from an NLIS Tag:

  1. Animal Identification Number: Look for the unique identification number assigned to the animal. This number helps track and trace the animal's movements and history.

  2. Farm Code: Identify the code assigned to the specific farm where the animal was tagged. This code helps identify the animal's origin.

  3. Country Code: Determine the country code associated with the tag. This code indicates the country of origin where the animal was tagged.

Note the specific date and time when the animal was tagged. This information helps understand the timeline of the animal's movements and activities.

Fact: NLIS tags greatly improve livestock traceability and are integral to livestock management systems worldwide.

Common Challenges when Reading NLIS Tags

When it comes to reading NLIS tags, there are a few common challenges that can arise. From tag misplacement to tag malfunction and reader compatibility issues, navigating these obstacles can sometimes be a hassle. But worry not! In this section, we'll dive into each of these sub-sections, giving you the lowdown on the potential hurdles you might encounter when it comes to reading NLIS tags. Stay tuned for practical insights and tips to overcome these obstacles with ease.

1. Tag Misplacement

Tag misplacement is a prevalent challenge when it comes to reading NLIS tags. It is crucial to correctly position and attach the tag to the animal. Please take into account the following points:

  1. Place the tag in the appropriate location on the animal's body according to the regulations or guidelines.
  2. Ensure that the tag is securely attached to prevent it from falling off or getting lost.
  3. Make sure that the tag is not obstructed by hair, dirt, or other objects, as this can interfere with reading the tag.
  4. Regularly inspect the tag for any signs of wear or damage that may affect its readability.

Pro-tip: When applying NLIS tags, follow the recommended techniques provided by the tag manufacturer or relevant authorities to minimize the risk of tag misplacement. Proper positioning and attachment of tags will ensure accurate and reliable animal identification.

2. Tag Malfunction

Tag malfunction is a frequently observed issue with NLIS tags. When a tag malfunctions, it can result in inaccurate data or difficulties in reading. Here are the steps to address tag malfunction:

1. Inspect the tag: Check whether the tag is securely attached and undamaged.

2. Replace the tag: If the tag is damaged or not functioning properly, replace it with a new one. Use high-quality tags to minimize the risk of tag malfunction.

3. Check reader compatibility: Ensure that the reader is compatible with the tag type. Different tags may require specific readers to prevent tag malfunction.

4. Test the tag: Use a compatible reader to scan the tag and confirm its proper functioning. Ensure accurate reading of information such as the animal identification number and farm code to avoid tag malfunction.

5. Monitor for future issues: Keep track of recurring tag malfunctions or inconsistent readings. This helps to identify underlying issues with the tags or readers and prevent future tag malfunction.

Prompt identification and traceability of animals necessitate the prompt resolution of tag malfunctions. Regular monitoring and maintenance can enhance efficiency in NLIS systems.

3. Reader Compatibility

To ensure successful reading of NLIS tags, it is crucial to consider reader compatibility. The compatibility between the reader device and the tags used plays a significant role in accurately retrieving information.

There are several factors to consider when it comes to compatibility:

- Frequency: Readers operate at different frequencies (LF, HF, or UHF). It is important to choose a reader that matches the frequency of the NLIS tags being used.

- Protocol: Readers communicate with tags using specific protocols (LF: ISO 11784/11785, UHF: ISO 18000-6C). It is essential to ensure that the reader supports the protocol of the tags for proper reading and decoding.

- Power: Different tags require different power levels to operate effectively. It is crucial to select a reader with the appropriate power output for reliable tag detection and scanning.

- Reading Range: The reading range of the reader should be considered based on the requirements of the application. Some readers have shorter ranges, while others can cover greater distances.

Ensuring reader compatibility is crucial to avoid misreads or failure to scan tags. Consulting with the NLIS tag manufacturer or an expert can help in choosing a reader compatible with specific NLIS tags.


Some Facts About How To Read a NLIS Tag:

  • ✅ NLIS tags are used to permanently identify livestock. (Source:
  • ✅ NLIS tags must be attached to the animal's right ear. (Source:
  • ✅ Only one electronic NLIS tag should be present on an animal at any time. (Source:
  • ✅ NLIS (Cattle) breeder tags are white, while post-breeder tags are orange. (Source:
  • ✅ NLIS (Sheep and goat) tags are color-coded to match the sheep industries' year of birth tag color system.(Source:

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you read a NLIS tag?

To read a NLIS tag, visually check for readable numbers on the tag. If the numbers are difficult to read, use a transponder or handheld reader to scan the tag. The NLIS tag should also have an explanatory message or quick tip to help identify the animal's breeding and life history.

What are the tagging requirements for NLIS tags?

The tagging requirements for NLIS tags include attaching the tags to the animal's right ear. Only one electronic NLIS tag should be present on the animal at any time. It is important to use the correct NLIS tag to accurately indicate the animal's breeding and life history. NLIS tags should not be used for other livestock species and should only be removed if damaged.

Can NLIS tags be ordered online?

Yes, NLIS tags can be ordered online through the or by accessing the website. There is a paper application form available for NLIS tags that can be downloaded, printed, and sent by post.

How often should a PIC reconciliation be conducted?

It is recommended to conduct a PIC reconciliation annually or on a regular basis. This stocktake of all electronic NLIS devices on a property helps identify discrepancies between the devices physically on the property and those registered on the NLIS database.

What is the NLIS helpline and ISC Customer Service?

The NLIS helpline is a customer support service that provides assistance with NLIS tag ordering, reading and use. ISC Customer Service, on the other hand, is a contact point for further assistance with the NLIS database and related inquiries.

Is there routine maintenance for the NLIS database?

Yes, routine maintenance is performed on the NLIS database. The database will be unavailable for maintenance every second Thursday between 6.00pm and 8.00pm (AEDT). It is important to be aware of these maintenance dates to ensure smooth usage of the NLIS system.

Back to blog