Ear Tag Year Colours & Letters

Year Colours

Sheep Ear Tags

In Australia, adhering to specific tagging protocols is crucial to upholding the country's biosecurity standards. NLIS lamb tags play a vital role in sustaining export markets, deterring theft, and facilitating disease tracing efforts. Compliance with this requirement is mandatory. Removing or replacing NLIS sheep tags is against the law.

Visual NLIS Tags

The year-of-birth colour system comprises of eight distinct colours (black, white, orange, light green, purple, yellow, red, sky blue), each assigned to a year in a rotational cycle, commencing with black and culminating with sky blue. Pink tags are designated for post-breeder use, indicating sheep acquired from a different owner or PIC.

When utilising visual tags, upon selling sheep, the new owner is obligated to apply an additional pink NLIS tag. This tag should bear their brand or PIC imprint and be placed in the ear opposite the coloured tag, typically the earmark ear.

Sheep Ear Tag Colours

  • 2023 - Sky blue
  • 2024 - Black
  • 2025 - White
  • 2026 - Orange
  • 2027 - Light green
  • 2028 - Purple
  • 2029 - Yellow
  • 2030 - Red

Sheep ear tag colour chart

Year Letters

Cattle Ear Tags

Electronic NLIS cattle tags contain two numbers:

  1. The visual NLISID number is printed on the outside of the electronic ear tag or on the outside of the visual ear tag, indicating that a rumen bolus has been applied.
  2. The electronic RFID number is a unique 15 digit number that is programmed into the microchip inside the device, which is read by a hand-held scanner or panel reader. 

The NLISID contains the Property Identification Code (PIC), Manufacturer, Device type, Year letter, and Device serial number.

RFID and NLISID example

Cattle Tag Year Letters

  • 2023 - U
  • 2024 - V
  • 2025 - W
  • 2026 - X
  • 2027 - Y
  • 2028 - Z
  • 2029 - A
  • 2030 - B

This information was sourced from the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development website and the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) website

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