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

Health: General


Schedule 1, paragraph 2 of the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2000 (S.I. 2000 No. 19870) requires that:

  • All animals kept in husbandry systems in which their welfare depends on frequent human attention shall be thoroughly inspected at least once a day to check that they are in a state of well-being; and
  • Animals kept in systems other than husbandry systems in which their welfare depends upon frequent human attention shall be inspected at intervals sufficient to avoid any suffering.

    Schedule 1, paragraph 5 states that any animals which appear ill or injured:

  • shall be cared for appropriately without delay; and
  • where they do not respond to such care, veterinary advice shall be obtained as soon as possible.

    Schedule 1, paragraph 7 of the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2000 (S.I. 2000 No. 19870) states that a record shall be maintained of:

  • any medicinal treatment given to animals, and
  • the number of mortalities found on each inspection of animals carried out in accordance with the provisions in Schedule 1, paragraph 2.

    Schedule 1, paragraph 8 states that the record shall be retained for a period of a least three years from the date on which the medicinal treatment was given, or the date of inspection, as the case may be, and shall be made available to an authorised person when carrying out an inspection or when otherwise requested by such person.

  1. Shepherds should be experienced or trained and be competent across the range of health and welfare skills - which should include vaccination, drenching, prevention of footrot and treatment of lame sheep, prevention and treatment of internal and external parasites including scab and fly strike, tail docking and castration. It is particularly important that shepherds have competence in the skills required at lambing time.
  2. A written health and welfare programme for all animals should be prepared for each flock. This should cover the yearly production cycle. It should be developed with appropriate veterinary and technical advice, and reviewed and updated annually. The programme should include sufficient records to assess the basic output of the flock and should address, as a minimum, vaccination policy and timing, control of external and internal parasites, and foot care. Pasture management should form an integral part of disease control and especially so in the case of internal parasites and footrot, where total reliance on drugs is best avoided.
  3. Particular attention should be paid to sheep, including rams, which are to be introduced into an established flock, since diseases can easily be spread. Such sheep should be segregated for at least four weeks and inspected and treated, if necessary, for diseases such as sheep scab or footrot Newly introduced ewes should again be segregated for about four weeks before lambing and lambed separately, preferably after the main flock, to avoid the introduction of infectious abortion agents at this time.
  4. Before introduction of rams to a flock at tupping time, ewes should be checked for fitness (especially for lameness, teeth, udders and body condition) and any ewe which is sub-standard should be culled, together with any known to have suffered reproductive problems in previous seasons. This is particularly important for animals expected to live under harsh conditions. Rams should also be checked for their suitability for breeding.
  5. Records must be maintained (see the box before paragraph 20) of any medicinal treatment given and the number of mortalities found in each inspection. Where equivalent information is required to be kept for other purposes, such as for medicine records or sheep identification legislation, these shall suffice.


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