Sheep (England): Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Livestock (PB5162)

Management: Tail Docking

  1. Farmers and shepherds should consider carefully whether tail docking within a particular flock is necessary; Tail docking may be carried out only if failure to do so would lead to subsequent welfare problems because of dirty tails and potential fly strike. If it is considered that both tail docking and castration are necessary, thought should be given to performing both operations at the one time of handling, so as to minimise disruption and the potential for mis-mothering and distress.
  2. Tail docking must be carried out only in strict accordance with the law (see text below and that following paragraph 61). The procedure should be performed by a competent, trained operator.

The Welfare of Livestock (Prohibited Operations) Regulations 1982 (S.I. 1982 No. 1884), as amended by the Welfare of Livestock (Prohibited Operations) (Amendment) Regulations 1987 (S.I. 1987 No. 114) prohibit penis amputations and other penile operations, tooth grinding, freeze dagging and short-tail docking of sheep unless sufficient tail is retained to cover the vulva in the case of female sheep and the anus in the case of male sheep.

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