Sheep and Goat Identification

Last Modified: April 22, 2024

The National Scrapie Eradication Program is providing up to 100 plastic flock ID tags free-of-charge to first time participants in the sheep and goat identification program until available funds are expended. Producers will need to purchase the compatible applicator from the tag manufacturer.

We discontinued the availability of no-cost metal tags for producers on August 31, 2019. Dealers and markets may continue to receive metal serial tags at no cost until the available funds are expended.  Flock ID tag numbers are the producer’s flock ID assigned by APHIS or the State followed by an individual animal number. Metal serial tag numbers have the state postal abbreviation, two letters followed by four numbers.  Plastic serial tags have the state postal abbreviation, a letter and a number in either order, followed by four numbers.

APHIS is working with sheep and goat organizations to encourage the use of electronic identification to improve our nation’s ability to quickly trace exposed and diseased animals in the event of an outbreak. 

To request official sheep and goat tags, a flock or premises ID or both, call 1-866-USDA-Tag (866-873-2824).

1-866-USDA-TAG has a new telephone tree (implemented in February 2021) that will gather information from the caller to direct them to the correct VS or State office to answer their questions about sheep and goat identification.

When prompted, callers will either key in or say the numbers on their telephone keypad corresponding to the two-letter postal abbreviation of the State or territory where the flock or herd about which they are calling is located. For example, if they are calling about their flock or herd in Texas, they will key in or say “8, 9” to indicate “T, X.” If they are calling about their flock or herd in California, they will key in or say “2, 2” to indicate “C, A.” Once the proper state is identified, the caller will be asked to key in or say “1” to confirm that it is the correct state. If the wrong state was inadvertently identified, the caller can key in or say “2” to return to the main menu to identify the correct state. If more than one state is represented by the number combination (for example, both Utah and Vermont are represented by “8, 8” for “U, T” and “V, T” respectively) then the caller will be asked to select the correct state from the list of options. The caller will then be routed directly to the correct person to help them. If they don’t know the postal abbreviation or have difficulty with the tree, they will be routed to a voicemail box where they can leave a message with their name, phone number, and the State or territory where their sheep or goats are located. These inquiries will be forwarded to the correct State or VS office within 2 business days. Callers should recognize that using this message feature will add significantly to the time required to obtain an answer to their questions because their message must be manually routed to the correct office.

Please provide any feedback about the new routing system to

Producers and others who handle sheep or goats in commerce who need additional tags or want a different type or color of tag may purchase official plastic, metal or radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags directly from approved tag manufactures. A flock or Premises ID is required to order tags from these sources. A National Premises ID is also required to purchase official 840 RFID tags or implantable devices.

For those who use the APHIS-provided tags, please note that you will need to purchase a compatible applicator.

The companies listed below are approved. These ear tags and devices are approved for the official identification of sheep and goats in interstate commerce. There are restrictions on the use of implantable devices, refer to page 55 of the National Scrapie Eradication Program Standards

Note: SFCP tags may only be purchased by owners of flocks participating in the Scrapie Free Flock Certification Program. Regular program tags may be purchased by any producer who has a flock/premises ID.

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