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

Housing: Building and Equipment


    Schedule 1, paragraphs 11 and 12 of the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2000 (S.I. 2000 No. 1870) state that:

    • materials used for the construction of accommodation, and, in particular for the construction of pens, cages, stalls and equipment with which the animals may come into contact, shall not be harmful to them and shall be capable of being thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
    • accommodation and fittings for securing animals shall be constructed and maintained so that there are no sharp edges or protrusions likely to cause injury to them.

  1. The law sets minimum requirements for the housing of sheep.
  2. Internal surfaces of housing and pens should be made of materials which can be cleansed and disinfected or be easily replaced when necessary.
  3. Surfaces should not be treated with paints or wood preservatives which may cause illness or death. There is a risk of lead poisoning from old paintwork, especially when second-hand building materials are used.
  4. All floors should be designed, constructed and maintained so as to avoid discomfort, stress or injury to the sheep. Regular maintenance is essential.
  5. Solid floors should be well-drained and the sheep provided with dry bedding.
  6. Newly born and young lambs should not be put on slatted floors unless suitable bedding is also provided.
  7. Water bowls and troughs should be constructed and sited so as to avoid fouling and to minimise the risk of water freezing in cold weather. They should be kept thoroughly clean and should be checked at least once daily; and more frequently in extreme conditions, to ensure that they are in working order.
  8. Troughs should be designed and installed in such a way as to ensure that small lambs cannot get into them and drown.
  9. For sheep given concentrate feed, when all animals are fed together, it is important to have adequate trough space to avoid competition and aggression. In normal practice, approximately 30 cm of trough space is needed for hill ewes and approximately 45 cm for the larger lowland ewes. Excessive competition is detrimental to sheep welfare.
  10. When feeding hay and silage ad lib., trough space should normally be provided within the range 10-12 cm per ewe, dependent upon size. Racks and troughs should be positioned and designed to avoid injury, discomfort and damage to sheep.
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