Ear Marking


Each lamb born in a registered Oxford Down flock must be identified as soon as practicable after birth with two official ID ear tags, one of which must be electronic and the other non-electronic. The electronic tag must be coloured yellow and is applied to the left ear. The non-electronic tag can be any colour other than yellow, black, or red. The official ID that appears on the two tags must be identical and unique to the lamb. In addition, the Association requires that all lambs retained or sold for breeding must carry the Oxford Down ear mark, applied either as management information on at least one official ID tag, or as a third tag (which must be pre-printed or stamped, not hand-written), or as a tattoo. 


The format for the Oxford Down ear mark shall be:

ODSBA Flock No. / Year Code / 5-digit Individual Lamb no.

The lamb's individual number shall be the 5-digit number from the official ID.
The Year Code is the last two digits of the year of birth (optional but recommended).

Example - 2016 born lamb in Flock No 1234
Official ID UK0654321 00789 (Flock Mark and Individual Animal Number)
Oxford Down ear mark 1234 / 16 / 00789


Breeders may buy their preferred brand and type of tag (e.g. loop, button or flag), provided that the regulations stated above are met. Tags should be ordered direct from the manufacturer or from an agricultural merchant. Several manufacturers will print the Oxford Down ear mark as management information on their tags in addition to the official ID.


If the Oxford Down ear mark is not included on the official ID tags as management information, breeders may use standard official ID tags but must apply the Oxford Down ear mark either as a third tag or a tattoo. If a third tag is used, a Ketchum Kurl-Lock No.3 or No.4 tag or a Shearwell PAT tag are suggested. Details of the tattooing system are given in the Flock Book.


Where breeders choose to include the Year Code denoting the year of birth in the Oxford Down ear mark, the Year Code to be used shall be the last two digits of the year of birth e.g. for lambs born in 2018 the Year Code = 18. December-born lambs are part of the next year's lamb crop and must be given the next year's Year Code.

Lost tags must be replaced no later than 28 days after being discovered to be missing. If a registered sheep is re-tagged with a new individual number, the owner must notify the Association. If an identical replacement tag is used or the sheep is not registered, notification is not required.


The official ID and Oxford Down ear mark must be recorded for each lamb alongside its sire and dam information in the breeder's lambing book.

A contact list for ear tag suppliers in the UK can be found by clicking here: List of Ear Tag suppliers

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