Smallholders in the UK running an livestock operation must be aware of the regulatory laws surrounding a CPH number.

What is a CPH number?

'CPH' stands for County Parish Holding and is an administrative registration number issued by the Rural Payments Agency, an executive agency of DEFRA. Hence the adapted term, CPH number.

It is also known as a 'location number'.

CPH numbers are a legal requirement for owners of certain types and quantities of livestock, whether hobbyists or full scale industrial farmers.

This administrative unique land identifier is essential and to be used in conjunction with any herd or flock numbers you possess.

What is a CPH number used for or what is its purpose?

The number is used by the UK Government for reporting on the location and movement of livestock. This is essential for monitoring and management of outbreaks of disease such as TB. It also used as part of applications for agricultural grants or subsidies.

Requirements do slightly differ between England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland.

The CPH number is a 9 digit number which allows the government to identify your farm smallholding or rural business.

It is encoded according to 'county (3 digits)', 'parish (3 digits)' and 'holding (3 digits)' and can immediately geographically pinpoint your land to the authorities.

There are both permanent and temporary CPH numbers, depending on the use of the land.

If the use is for seasonal grazing only, for example, then the number issued is a temporary one - where the use of the land for livestock purposes is continual, the number issued will be permanent.

CPH Registration Numbers are required for holding most types of livestock/animals:

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

Is is important to know that all owners of the above livestock including those keeping them individually as pets, as in the case of micro pigs, are required to register a CPH number for the area of land where the animal will be kept.

Are there any further nuances pertaining to a registration?

Since 2016, under the CPH Rationalisation in England, a smallholder must register all the livestock land used within a 10-mile radius, measured from the place in which the stocked animal(s) usually gather, or the correspondence address.

Some farmers and smallholders who may have historically held multiple CPH registrations for different sites are now able to merge them to a single number...provided that all locations fall with the 10 mile radius.

Whilst the example above doesn't cover everything associated with the registration requirements, we hope it gives a little insight and feeds your interest to find out more.

How to get, find or obtain a County Parish Holding number for your smallholding?

Applying for CPH number by application form is relatively simple. Just contact the Rural Payment Agency with the following:

  • - Single Business Identifier (SBI) - if you already have one
  • - Business name
  • - Land location (land parcel reference number(s), postcode or OS grid reference(s))
  • - Details of your tenure
  • - Planned activities on your land
  • - Contact details

CPH Frequently Asked Questions - FAQs

How much does a CPH number application cost?

At the time of writing (11/10/2017), application cost of a CPH is free of charge and simple to request.

How to check if I absolutely need a CPH number?

Simply contact the Rural Payments Agency. Call: 03000 200 301.

Is there anyway I can search a CPH list, or cross reference a central registration database?

The UK Government publishes datasets of CPH numbers in annual inventory round-ups, which you can view by visiting: UK Government CPH Datasets (this digital internet resource also offer geographical maps of rural land register).

Looking to do a bit more research about CPH number online?

Read the UK Government's official guidance papers and publications - we have provided a few links below:

  1. Get a CPH number from the rural payments agency
    • Published on
  2. Simple rules for livestock movements in the UK
    • Published on

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