Buying a sheep or goat

Please note that these guides do not constitute legal advice and any information provided in the guides should not be construed as legal advice or legal interpretation. We do not accept any liability for any loss caused by your reliance on this guide.


The DoneDeal guide to buying a sheep or goat

We've put together this guide on goats because people buying them as pets may not realise they must be registered and tagged by law as they are potentially part of the food chain.


  • Different breeds of sheep or goats are suitable for different things – pets, milk, cheese, meat.
  • Be sure that you have the right animal for your needs.

Registration and tagging

  • Anybody who wishes to purchase or keep a sheep or goat must be registered with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine as a sheep or goat keeper. 
  • Ensure that the animal is tagged properly and that it comes from a registered holding.
  • Ensure that the seller provides you with a completed National Sheep Identification System or National Goat Identification System dispatch/movement document. 
  • You must keep a sheep/goat register that identifies all your animals and their movements into and out of your holding. 
  • New Tagging rules came into force in 2010, whereby sheep born after 1st January that year have to be tagged in both ears - a conventional tag in the left and an electronic tag in the right. 
  • An exception is made for sheep intended for slaughter under nine months of age, where a single conventional tag in the left ear is all that is needed. 
  • All goats born since 1st January 2010 must be tagged in both ears with a matching set of tags unless they are being exported in which case an electronic tag set is required. 
  • Read the information on tagging from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
  • If you are looking for pedigree goats, ensure they have the necessary paperwork. Most will be registered with the British Goat Society.

Goat Health

  • It’s not always straightforward, but try to find out what vaccines the animal has had.
  • The goats need to be vaccinated (particularly for clostridial diseases) and dosed for worms, and their feet also need to be taken care of.
  • Young kids are very soft animals and take lots of care to ensure they stay healthy.
  • In general, goats are friendly, intelligent and inquisitive animals but do take a little looking after.

Other points to note

  • Goats are amazing escape artists and will require proper fencing and housing.
  • The odour created by uncastrated males during the mating season is unpleasant and powerful!

We spoke to Cian Condon, National Goat Adviser with Teagasc, the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority.