Why UK animal sanctuary residents should have the option to be microchipped instead of ear tagged.


Questions & Concerns

The most common question and concern we receive from the public is regarding ID ear tags worn by sanctuary animals.



Many people naturally become very upset when seeing them in the ears of rescued animals not realising that in the U.K. tags are a LEGAL requirement.

The ear tag number “attached” to the animal, matches the number in the “passport” of the animal.

Every birth, death or movement (when transported from one location to another) must legally be reported within 3 days.

Farm animals are seen as commodities; they are profit, and are nothing more than a number within the industries they are bred into. Sadly a massive percentage of the population perceive them exactly the same way because we as humans have been conditioned to believe that’s all they are!

However times are changing, people are waking up and making the connection that actually the only difference between farm animals and the cats & dogs we treat like family members, is human perception!

If you want to see change for animals, please let us work together to be the change you wish to see in the world.

Lisa James set the wheels in motion

A petition was created in 2018 by Lisa James at Horse and Farm Animal Sanctuary to request we have UK sanctuary animals’ microchipped instead of wearing ear tags (a petition we at Lotus massively supported).  However, sadly the petition closed before it reached the required 10,000 signatures.

Once the petition had been closed for over 8 months, we decided we would try again.  This time Lotus Heart Sanctuary, Horse & Farm Animal Sanctuary & Tribe Animal Sanctuary have joined forces to try to drum up more help & support for these beautiful animals.

Please sign & share for the animals https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/262398

Our petition will run until Christmas Eve – we have just over 3 months left to work on getting the signatures we need for the animals. It’s now mid-September and we have over 2300 signatures, but we need roughly 7,700 more before the government will even respond – if we could get 100K it would be considered for debate in Parliament

End speciesism

If farm animals are removed from the “food chain system” and are living the rest of their lives on sanctuaries, we want the option to be able to have the animals’ microchipped instead of tagged. It may not be that all sanctuaries would remove current ear tags, (some may choose to, some may not), but if an ear tag was accidentally ripped out, the animal could then be microchipped instead of re-tagging. It would be hugely beneficial for when little baby animals are going to sanctuaries, they could be chipped, and never need to be tagged.

Microchipping means the animals would still be traceable and accountable to BCMS but without that constant reminder of the system and death they’ve been saved from. At sanctuaries we take full responsibility for the animals’ health and well-being just like a human who cares for a horse or dog or any companion animal takes responsibility for their health & well-being.  Sanctuary founders and all their visitors, volunteers and supporters love these animals just exactly the same way as people love the dogs & cats they share their homes with, so we want the option to remove the discrimination surrounding these sanctuary residents, and be given the ability to treat the various species we care for in the same way we would be allowed to care for other species. To not allow this is actually another form of discrimination known as speciesism – we need to end that discrimination.

It’s all about choice…

As I already stated; at Lotus we receive a constant flow of questions and concerns about ear tags. Usually people are asking why we do not remove the tags as soon as animals have been rescued. However, since the petition went live we have had quite a lot of questions asking why the ear tags should not be used.

A common statement and question is – “Is tagging the animals painful, and isn’t it just like a piercing”?


When we choose to have a piercing of any body part – it is our choice to go along to have this done; we know what’s happening, we know to sit still at time of the piercing, and we are given aftercare advice. The pain and discomfort we endure has been a choice we have consciously made to accept. As we go about our lives we also have awareness of that piercing and we know we must take care not to rip the piercing out. My son had a pretty large ear stretcher in his ear when he was a teenager – that got accidentally ripped out and the mess of his ear was blood curdling. This happens to farm animals every day yet nobody bats an eyelid!

An animal has none of the above choices or knowledge. Often the animals head must be restrained in a crush or gate (depending on age, size and situation). The actual placement of the tag is crucial – if a tag is placed incorrectly, it could potentially cause major problems, therefore location is very important; incorrect placement leaves the animal wide open to infection. If tags are placed too far out they’re very prone to ripping out at any stage in the animals’ life, and this is a common problem. There is also always a risk of infection and/or tissue death. Morag at Tribe has told us how it’s happened to a lot to the residents there and has even provided us with some photos to show their ripped ears.

Pain, swelling and/or discharge can often develop, at which point the tag may need to be removed. In the case of a removed tag antibiotics and resolution of the infection needs to take place before reapplication of a tag. If the infection does not resolve, it will be necessary to see a vet.


Extending the trauma

Bodhi 2 days old before tagging


Remember that often this is happening to babies who are just days old – they are scared, anxious and without choice. Often these babies are already traumatised and grieving because they have been separated from their mothers. Little boys born into the dairy industry like little Bodhi are literally sitting in a barn by themselves either waiting to be shot (in which case they do not need tagged), or waiting to be transported, in which case they will need tagged. So when we rescued little Bodhi for example he legally had to be tagged before he could be transported – this is a legal requirement from the British Cattle Movement Service. So not only was little Bodhi just a couple of days old and without his Mother, he was scared, lonely and anxious…and then into the bargain, he had to go through the trauma of

Less than 1 week old – tagged

having tags (that were at the time bigger than his ears), shot through both ears. As Bodhi was going to live the rest of his life out on a sanctuary and would never be part of the food chain, why should he be tagged? Why not just microchip like any other companion animal like a dog or a cat?


Microchipping is more than sufficient

Microchipping is a small needle quickly inserted under the skin – just a scratch like when we have blood taken, and that’s it…a huge difference to tagging.

Microchipping means the animals would still be traceable and accountable to BCMS but without that constant reminder of the system and death they’ve been saved from. At sanctuaries we take full responsibility for the animals health and well-being just like a human who cares for a horse or dog or any companion animal takes responsibility – we want the option to remove the discrimination and be given the ability to treat the various species we care for in the same way we would be allowed to care for other certain species like cats & dogs.

Microchip procedure For all sanctuaries and thousands of animal lovers, identification ear tags on sanctuary residents is a constant bleak reminder of why those certain species are bred into a very sad existence. It is a daily reminder that they are regarded as nothing more than commodities and a mere number to so many. The tags are a constant reminder of where these beautiful beings have come from, and the exploitative industry they were part of and born into.

Ear Tag Gun/Applicator



From Lisa James at Horse & Farm Animal Sanctuary Wales

Horse & Farm Animal Sanctuary

We often get asked whether we can remove ear tags from our farm animal rescues and sadly the answer is always no. By law we have to register and tag our farm friends even though they are in a sanctuary environment.
If we were to remove them as a sanctuary we could be putting their lives and others in our care in jeopardy, so unfortunately we have to leave them in.

I didn’t like the fact that our beautiful rescues had to still by law wear these tags. They get pulled out, can possibly get infected and most of all they are a constant reminder of where our rescues have come from and that they are still classed as ‘products’ by the government even though they will never be going into the so called ‘food chain’.

Horse & Farm Animal Sanctuary

I decided to start a petition in hope that sanctuaries could remove the ear tags and replace with microchips. By doing this our farm friends would still be traceable to the government, in fact the microchips could actually hold more information.
Sanctuaries take full responsibility of their residents health, the ear tag makes no difference to the health care which they would receive so surely it’s far better to remove them.

Lisa James 

From Morag Sangster – Tribe Animal Sanctuary  

At Tribe Animal Sanctuary we try to make people see that there is no difference between the dog on your couch and the pig on your plate. All animals are deserving of love and protection, to live lives free from exploitation, fear and death.

Ear Damaged – Tribe


In our dreams for the future all animals will be treated the same, breeding animals for food will be a thing of the past, and the ones we have will be loved and cherished for the sentient creatures they are.

We need to change the cultural construct that allows the exploitation of so called ‘food animals’, and every little step on that path is significant. Ear tags on animals that are considered for the food chain are a cruel and only exist to make the exploitation of them more efficient and time saving.


Clearly ripped ear – Tribe

The animals at the sanctuary have been saved from exploitation and their ear tags are an ugly reminder of how our society sees them, as just a number to be scanned by the abattoir.

Not only are they the sign of a cruel system, they also pose a risk to the animal, we have a number of animals who bear the scars of what the tags have done to them, like split ears where they have been ripped out.


Our animals are all our pets; they have names to identify them and a safe place to call home. We don’t mind a system of identification; all pets should be able to be identified, so why not allow our sheep, cows and pigs to have microchips instead of tags?

Please sign the petition

Morag Sangster


If you are talking about it to people, you can tell them the link can be easily found on the homepage of our website www.BohemianHippy.com & LotusAnimalSanctuary.com or on our social media channels throughout various posts.  You can also Google it or simply type it in – .


Please sign and share far & wide. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to get in touch.

We can do this for the animals

Thank you