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Intra-Community trade in bovine pure-bred breeding animals

Cattle production occupies a very important place in European agriculture. Its success is closely related to the use of pure-bred breeding animals. However, disparities between Member States as regards breeds and standards hinder trade within the European Union (EU). To remedy this situation, the EU is harmonising standards on trade in these animals which are used for breeding. It thus contributes to lifting restrictions on intra-Community trade and increasing the productivity of this agricultural sector.


Council Directive 2009/157/EC of 30 November 2009 on pure-bred breeding animals of the bovine species.


The European Union (EU) defines rules applying to trade in pure-bred breeding animals of the bovine species. It will thus allow intra-Community trade in all pure-bred breeding animals to be gradually liberalised.

Bovine animals and their cells

The Directive applies to:

  • pure-bred breeding animals of the bovine species, including buffalo, the ancestors of which are entered or registered in a herd-book * of the same breed, and which are themselves either entered or registered and eligible for entry in such a herd-book;
  • the semen, ova and embryos of these animals.

Measures to liberalise trade in the European Union

Member States shall guarantee free trade in pure-bred breeding animals of the bovine species, their reproductive cells or their embryos.

States shall also ensure that there are no obstacles to the establishment of herd-books pursuant to Article 6 nor to the recognition of the organisations or associations which maintain these herd-books.

However, Member States may require pedigree certificates to be presented in cases of intra-Community trade in pure-bred breeding animals of the bovine species, their semen, their ova or their embryos.

Harmonised rules at European level

The Commission shall be assisted by the Standing Committee on Zootechnics in order to determine:

  • performance monitoring methods and methods for assessing cattle's genetic value;
  • the criteria governing the recognition of breeders' organisations and associations;
  • the criteria governing the establishment of herd-books;
  • the criteria governing entry in herd-books;
  • the particulars to be shown on the pedigree certificate.

Entry in herd-books

Breeders' organisations or associations officially recognised by a Member State may not oppose the entry in their herd-books of pure-bred breeding animals of the bovine species from other Member States provided that they satisfy the requirements laid down in accordance with Article 6.


This Directive replaces Directive 77/504/EEC.

Key terms of the Act
  • herd-book: any book, register, file or data medium:
    • which is maintained by a breeders' organisation or association officially recognised by a Member State in which the breeders' organisation or association was constituted, or by an official department of the Member State concerned; and
    • in which pure-bred breeding animals of a given breed of the bovine species are entered or registered with mention of their ancestors.


ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal

Directive 2009/157/EC



OJ L 323 of 10.12.2010

Last updated: 30.04.2010
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