We delivered a comprehensive cattle information and tracking system to meet tight deadlines ahead of new EU legislation


The former Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), now the  Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA), was the department of the Isle of Man Government responsible for administering the legislation covering the agricultural and fisheries industries, as well as that protecting the Island's countryside and wildlife. The Island's stock of over 20,000 cattle falls under the jurisdiction of the department. Due to legislation introduced by the European Union, the DAFF needed to establish a PC based system to record information about the existence and movement of all bovine animals in the Isle of Man.


Following their successful completion of a procurement process by the Department, PDMS were selected as the software provider of choice for the new system development. The time scales for development of the system were short, as the system was required to comply with imminent EU legislation.

It was required that information on all bovine animals be recorded whilst they were present on the Island, from their birth or import onto the Island up until their death or export. One of the major problems in recording information about bovine animals is ensuring the correct identification of the animal. The EU legislation was based around the concept of a Europe-wide Unique Bovine Animal Number (UBAN), attached to each animal in the form of two ear tags. It was required that information received from the manufacturers of the ear tags be recorded, and the issue and use of these ear tags, including controlling the replacement of lost tags, be tracked.


The Bovine Information and Tracking (BIT) system contains tag import functions developed to meet the bespoke, and extremely non-standard, requirements of the tag manufacturer. The BIT system records the status of tags, from their issue to holdings for use on newly born animals, to when the animal is slaughtered. 

The registration of the birth of an animal is driven from the receipt of a pre-printed Birth Registration Form from the keeper of the animal. The keeper, which may be a person or a company, the holding of birth, the UBAN, breed and sex of the animal are all recorded. The UBAN is checked for uniqueness; the status of the corresponding tag is checked and, if correct, updated. The Cattle Passport and two Movement Cards are printed; after a pre-defined number of registrations for the same holding, replacement Birth Registration Forms are printed. This allows all documentation to be posted out to a holding in one batch.

Image of cows with ear tagsThe two Movement Cards printed are a Departure Notification and an Arrival Notification. In the field, the keeper of an animal completes the Departure Notification, and passes the Arrival Notification on to the new keeper, when an animal changes hands. Receipt of either initiates a Movement Registration on the BIT system. New Movement Cards are only printed on receipt of an Arrival Notification, therefore preventing any subsequent movements of animals whose last movement has not yet been reported.

In addition, the BIT System contains a flexible query and reporting engine, and a full audit trail of all registrations, movements and other actions on the system. This is all controlled by a system of privileges, which allows for users to be specified as system Administrators, with access to all BIT system functions, Operators, with access to virtually all BIT system functions, Data Entry users, who can perform registration and movement type functions, or read-only Browsers.


The major achievements of the BIT system are the huge improvements in control and tracking. For example, preventing the registration of birth of animals where no tag has yet been issued, or preventing the movement of animals with no movement cards allows incorrect information received from keepers to be dealt with immediately. 

PDMS worked extremely closely with the DAFF to ensure that system was tested and installed by the required deadline. The system has now been successfully in operation for several years and has held data on over 165,000 animals.

In a series of new online developments, the system was enhanced to allow farmers to view the details of every animal that is currently on their holding or that has been on their holding over the past ten years. They can register new births, deaths, import and exports, and record movement of their cattle between the different holdings on the Isle of Man.   The online facility has helped greatly with day to day farm management, for example, famers can quickly extract reports on the sex and date of birth of animals over 2 years old on their holding which are required to undergo TB testing.