Holding numbers, flock numbers and herd numbers

Holding numbers

If you want to keep farm animals or apply for an agricultural subsidy you are required to obtain a County Parish Holding (CPH) number from the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) for the land on which the livestock is kept.

A CPH is designed to identify and trace the location of livestock. It is an identification number for your farm or business which pinpoints the location of the land. It’s a 9-digit number: the first two digits identify the county, the next three relate to the parish and the last four digits identify the holding.

You’ll need a CPH if you keep one or more of the following:

  • cattle (including bison and buffalo);
  • sheep;
  • pigs;
  • goats;
  • deer;
  • poultry (more than 50 birds).

You’re required to have a holding number for all land on which your animals graze even if the land is not owned by you and even if the animals are only grazing on a piece of land for a short period of time.

The holding number covers a 10-mile radius of the main place of business. If qualifying livestock is kept on land outside of this radius a separate holding number is required in relation to that land.

A holding number can be obtained from the Rural Payments Agency by telephoning them. The Rural Payments Agency is an executive agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

If you rent or temporarily use someone else’s land to graze your animals you can use the CPH number of that land owner. If the person who owns the land doesn’t let you use their CPH number, you can request a temporary CPH number from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

Herd and flock numbers

A herd or flock ‘mark’, as they are generally known, is a unique six-digit number identifying your herd of animals. The primary purpose of a herd or flock mark is to identify any livestock born on your land so the origin of such livestock can be traced if they are moved from the farm upon which they were born.

However, a herd or flock mark is required even if you have no intention of allowing your animals to breed and even if the ‘herd’ or ‘flock’ only consists of a single animal.

The herd mark is one of the pieces of information printed on your animals’ identifier (eg, an ear tag). Herd and flock marks can be obtained from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). You must have a holding number before a herd or flock mark can be obtained.

Article written by...
Nicola Laver LLB
Nicola Laver LLB

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A non-practising solicitor, Nicola is also a fully qualified journalist. For the past 20 years, she has worked as a legal journalist, editor and author.