About the National Livestock Identification System

What is NLIS?

The National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) is Australia’s system for the identification and traceability of cattle, sheep and goats. NLIS reflects Australia’s commitment to biosecurity and food safety and provides a competitive advantage in a global market.

NLIS is endorsed by major producer, feedlot, agent, saleyard and processor bodies. In addition to this, it is underpinned by State/Territory legislation, which forms the regulatory framework for the system. NLIS Ltd is ISO9001 certified.

Key aspects of the system are:

How does the NLIS work?

The NLIS combines three elements to enable the lifetime traceability of animals:

  • an animal identifier (a visual or electronic ear tag known as a device)
  • identification of a physical location by means of a Property Identification Code (PIC)
  • a web-accessible database to store and correlate movement data and associated details

As animals are bought, sold and moved along the supply chain, they must be tagged with an NLIS-accredited tag or device. Each movement they make to a location with a different PIC is recorded centrally on the NLIS Database by people with NLIS accounts. NLIS accounts are free to open and operate.

Using this information, the NLIS is able to provide a life history of an animal's residency, and to discern which other animals livestock may have come into contact with. The NLIS is required to facilitate the traceability of animals in accordance with the National Traceability and Performance Standards.

Statuses may also be assigned to individual animals (provided they are electronically tagged) or to properties to record pertinent information about these animals and properties on the NLIS. For example:

  • a device status may be assigned to a device to indicate that the device is damaged, lost, has been stolen or that the animal it is attached to has been vaccinated against a particular disease
  • a property status may be assigned to a PIC to indicate that the property is LPA-accredited or EU-accredited, or that all of the animals on a property may have been exposed to a residue or contaminant.

Any device or property statuses that indicate that any animals may pose a biosecurity or health risk are reported to processors to ensure that the affected animals are tested at slaughter. This maintains the safety, quality and integrity standards of Australian red meat and livestock and reduces the impact of a potential livestock disease epidemic or residue incident.