The Official Stuff

There are certain requirements, under Victorian law, that require you to register your property with the DPI (Department of Primary Industries) and get a PIC (Property Identification Code). This allows you to transfer animals on & off your property so that the DPI can trace them should there be a disease outbreak. You also need a book of NVD (National Vendor Declaration) / Waybills if you intend to transport cattle within Victoria or interstate.

Getting a PIC

A PIC is an eight character alphanumeric code that is allocated by the DPI to a livestock producing property. In Victoria, PICs commence with the prefix ‘3’ and are in the format ‘3ABCD123’. PICs were formerly known as ‘tail tag numbers’. Cattle, sheep and goat producers are required by law to have a PIC for the properties on which they graze their livestock. If you are unsure of your PIC, or need to obtain a PIC, call Victorian DPI’s Helpline on 1800 678 779 during business hours. Before calling, ensure that you have the Council Rate Assessment Number printed on your rate notice for all parcels of land associated with your property, including leased and agistment land that forms part of your property.

Producers who acquire a new property need to apply for a new Property Identification Code (PIC). The old PIC for the property just acquired will be recorded as ‘disbanded’ and a new PIC, recorded against the name of the new property owner, will be issued.

A PIC application form can be downloaded from the DPI website, or you may call DPI's NLIS Helpline to obtain a form during business hours.

What is an NLIS Ear Tag

The NLIS (National Livestock Identification Scheme) number printed on NLIS devices commences with the PIC of the property on which the device is to be used. This is followed by 3 letters and 5 numbers specific to that particular animal on your property (eg XYZ 00001), giving a full NLIS of something like 3ABCD123 XYZ 00001. This number appears on the actual ear tag and corresponds to a microchip number inside the tag.

There are two types of NLIS devices endorsed for the permanent identification of cattle. They are known as Breeder Devices and Post-Breeder Devices. NLIS Breeder Devices are white and are used by a breeder to permanently identify cattle before they leave their property of birth. NLIS Post-Breeder Devices are orange and are used to permanently identify introduced cattle, not already have a NLIS tag.

NLIS Breeder and Post-Breeder Devices are available in the form of an ear tag, or an ear tag/rumen bolus combination. With ear tag/rumen bolus combinations, the bolus contains the microchip. The visually readable NLIS Number is printed on a large ear tag (white for NLIS Breeder Devices and orange for NLIS Post-Breeder Devices) along with the letter ‘R’ or word ‘RUMEN’. The ear tag signals that a bolus has been administered to the animal. Because of its large size, this ear tag can also function as an on-farm management tag.

NLIS devices are stamped with the NLIS logo and the words ‘Do not remove’. Cattle only need to be permanently identified once, either with an NLIS Breeder Device or an NLIS Post-Breeder Device. If cattle you buy are already identified with an NLIS device, do not attach a second NLIS device. 

NLIS devices must be attached to the right (off-side) ear. Because NLIS ear tags are small, it is relatively simple to place the tag in the right (off-side) ear of cattle even when the cattle already have a management tag in this ear. Being small, they are less likely to get caught on something and be dislodged in the animals lifetime, although this still happens sometimes.

NLIS Breeder Devices and Post-Breeder Devices contain a microchip encoded with a unique, unalterable number that can be accurately read electronically by a scanner in a fraction of a second. The individual NLIS  number on the tag can be read visually.

A special applicator designed for the particular NLIS Device being attached must be used. If the wrong applicator is used, or it is placed in the wrong spot in the ear, it will be more likely to be dislodged.

To obtain an application form for NLIS Devices, call the DPI’s toll-free Helpline on 1800 678 779. They can also be ordered through various non-government companies online.

NLIS Requirements When Moving Cattle

Under current (2012) Victorian law, producers consigning cattle to a sale yard or abattoir, and producers purchasing cattle at a sale yard are not required to notify the NLIS Ltd database of the movement of these cattle. The animals are scanned and the transfers made by these organisations. However, Victorian producers are required to notify the NLIS database when they receive NLIS tagged cattle directly from another property. This includes the following:

  • Buying cattle privately from another producer,

  • Moving cattle between your own properties with different PICs,

  • Moving cattle to and from a leased property,

  • Moving cattle to and from an agistment property.

Producers must notify the NLIS database within 7 days of the arrival of the cattle and is the responsibility of the person receiving the cattle.  This is all done online through the MLA website (, providing you know the PIC for both properties, and the individual NLIS numbers of the cattle involved.

NVD / Waybills

The LPA (Livestock Production Assurance) manage the movement of cattle via all forms of transport across Australia. When cattle are moved, by anyone, the transporter needs to have filled out the appropriate form - called a NVD / Waybill. National Vendor Declaration and Waybill (NVD/Waybill) is the main document upholding Australia's meat and livestock food safety reputation. On-farm risk management actions underpinned by LPA accreditation back-up all claims made on the LPA NVD/Waybill.

At the moment (2012), the cost of a standard book of 20 LPA NVD/Waybills is $35.00 (including GST) and these can be obtained online through the LPA user profile website or by phoning 1800 683 111.

An electronic version of the LPA NVD/Waybill, the eDEC, has been developed for livestock producers and lot feeders and offers producers a significant cost saving (up to 40%) compared with the printed version. The eDEC simplifies the completion process as it takes producers through the components of an LPA NVD/Waybill step-by-step and can be printed once completed. eDECs can be purchased online through the LPA user profile website.

Emergency NVD/Waybills are essentially the same as an eDEC, but available only in emergency circumstances, when a conventional LPA NVD/Waybill or eDEC is unavailable. The emergency system is available at any time online (with the purchase of an NVD book) and is accessed through the LPA user profile website. The system can also be accessed via the LPA hotline on 1800 683 111 (Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 5.00pm AEDST).