Q&A on electronic sheep movement rules

From next month a new electronic movement reporting system for sheep, goats and deer will be introduced. Joe Ryan of SouthWestern, the firm providing the reporting system answers some key questions.

On 1 April 2014 a new electronic movement reporting system will be launched by DEFRA. The new Animal Reporting and Movement Service (Arams) will be provided by SouthWestern and will take over the processing of sheep, goat and deer movements from each local authority in England.

What does the Arams service entail?

Arams essentially involves two parts. The first is the SouthWestern Bureau operation in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, where the staff will process all paper movements on to the Arams database.

The second part is an electronic interface with some premises’ back office IT systems (or a web portal) to automatically transfer movement information into the system.

Once all the movement information has been validated by the Arams database, the information is then transferred up into the government database the Animal Movement Licensing System (AMLS).

See also: Farmers urged to get ready for EID rule change

Who has to report electronically to Arams?

All English markets, abattoirs, collection centres and assembly centres will have to report electronically to the new system from 1 April.

Will farmers have to report movements electronically?

Farmers will have the choice of reporting sheep, goat and deer movements electronically if they wish. However, farmers can continue to report movements on paper if they prefer this option.

Are there any changes if I want to continue reporting movements on paper?

Yes, there will be new movement documents supplied by 

  • An Arams-1 document will replace the AML1 form for sheep and goat movements
  • An Arams-2 document will replace the current AML24 form for deer movements
  • There will also be an Arams-S form for supplementary tag information.

These new movement forms are very similar to the AML1 and AML24 documents.

The second change is that these new movement forms should be posted to the SouthWestern office instead of your local authority.

The SouthWestern address is: Animal Reporting and Movement Service, SouthWestern, PO Box 6299, Milton Keynes MK10 1ZQ. All paper movement documents for moves that take place on or after 1 April should be posted to this address.

Is it still the receiving keeper that should report the movements?

Yes. These movements must be reported within three days whether the receiving keeper is reporting electronically or on paper.

Where will I be able to get these new movement forms?

SouthWestern will distribute the new forms through English (sheep) markets, some showgrounds and local authority offices will carry a stock of these forms during an interim period. In addition, forms will be available online at 

If I wish to report movements electronically, how will I do so?

The first step will be to register an account at www.arams.co.uk. Farmers will be able to register an account before the end of March to allow them to report electronically from 1 April if they wish. It will be possible to link multiple CPHs (holding numbers) to the one user account.

Is there any cost to farmers of the new reporting system?

No, if farmers choose to avail themselves of an Arams user account, this is completely free.

Will there be a helpline available for the new system?

Yes, the helpline number, available from 1 April from 8am to 8pm Monday to Saturday, is 0844 573 0137.

If I create a movement electronically on Arams, do I still need to use a paper movement form?

Once you set the movement up electronically, the Arams system will allow you to print a movement form which is pre-populated with the details. In the majority of cases, you will need to print three copies – one for the haulier and two for the destination keeper.

In some circumstances, it may not be necessary to print any copies from Arams – but this would be dependent on the haulier having a PDA, laptop or tablet with mobile printing facilities and the receiving keeper also being registered on Arams.

An example where no paper movement document would be necessary is where both the departure and receiving keepers were using Arams to record or report movements electronically and the transporter was moving with an electronic copy of the movement document.

What do I do if the departure keeper creates the move electronically – do I have to confirm electronically?

No. Regardless of whether the departure keeper created the movement electronically or not, the receiving keeper will always have the option of whether to confirm receipt electronically or on paper.

Where the departure keeper printed a pre-populated movement form to give to the receiving keeper, the receiving keeper can simply post that form to the SouthWestern bureau if they wish.

If the receiving keeper is set up electronically, they can simply log into their Arams account where the incoming movement details would be awaiting them to confirm receipt (assuming the departure keeper created the movement electronically).

If the departure keeper did not create the movement electronically – can I still confirm receipt electronically if I wish?

Yes. In this scenario, the receiving keeper (if registered on Arams) can log into their account and enter the movement details so they can create the “on” movement electronically.

Will Arams cover Wales and Scotland too?

No, Arams relates to sheep, goat and deer movements in England only.

The ScotEID system represents movements in Scotland and a new Welsh EID database should be operational by 2015.

The Arams database will interface with its Scottish and Welsh counterparts to share movement information relating to cross-border movements.

If I have a farm management package, can I report electronically through this?

SouthWestern have issued each farm management package (FMP) provider with interface specification documents which will allow the FMP to interface with Arams.

It will be up to each FMP provider to decide whether or not they wish to allow their FMP to interface with Arams.

If I use Arams how will my electronic holding register work?

Farmers who set up an Arams portal account will have the choice of availing of a free electronic holding register.

When setting up the holding register, a farmer will have two options for “off” movements:

  1. Accept the version of tag numbers provided by (scanned at) the market, abattoir, assembly centre or collection centre
  2. Use the farmer’s version of tag numbers to automatically populate their holding register

Similarly for ‘on’ movements, the farmer can:

  • Accept the version supplied by the market, abattoir, assembly centre or collection centre, or amend the details if the farmer feels these are incorrect.
  • Farmers can amend any data that they allow to be downloaded to their e-holding register.

What should I do next?

Farmers will be able to register for an Arams account before the end of March.

As all markets, abattoirs, collection centres and assembly centres will be reporting electronically to Arams, it is essential the details these premises hold for farmers’ matches the details held by government.

In particular, farmers are being encouraged to contact their local Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency office to verify its records are accurate in respect of:

  • Farmer’s name and address
  • Postcode
  • CPH number or numbers (registered as holdings for sheep, goat or deer if applicable).

From next month all English markets, abattoirs, collection centres and assembly centres will have to report movements electronically.

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