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



Schedule 1, paragraph 1 of the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2000 (S.I. 2000, No. 1870) states that:

- Animals shall be cared for by a sufficient number of staff who possess the appropriate ability, knowledge and professional competence.

  1. The most significant single influence on the welfare of any flock is the shepherd, who should develop and carry out an effective routine for continuing care.
  2. All shepherds should be aware of the welfare needs of their sheep and be capable of safeguarding them under all foreseeable conditions before being given responsibility for a flock. This requires the acquisition of specific stockmanship skills. These may be developed on-farm, working with an experienced person, or by following a course offered by a suitable training organisation. Wherever possible, the training should be of a type which leads to formal recognition of competence.
  3. Shepherds should no the signs of good health in sheep. These include general alertness, free movement, active feeding and rumination, and absence of lameness, visible wounds, abscesses or injuries.
  4. Shepherds should also know the signs which indicate ill health in sheep. These include listlessness, abnormal posture and behaviour, lameness, scouring, absence of cudding, persistent coughing or panting, scratching and frequent rubbing, rapid loss of bodily condition, excessive wool loss, sudden fall in milk yield and, in some circumstances, being apart from the flock.
  5. The capabilities of the shepherd or shepherds in charge of the sheep are a significant factor in determining the size of the flock. The flock size should not be increased, nor should a unit be set up, unless the shepherds have the skills necessary to safeguard the welfare of every animal in their charge.
  6. It is important for a farmer to ensure that enough time is available within the shepherds normal work routine for the flock to be properly inspected and for any necessary remedial action to be taken.
  7. It may be necessary to engage extra help such as experienced, competent contractors to provide extra assistance during busy periods such as lambing, shearing, routine dipping and other disease prevention treatments; or when regular staff are unavailable due to holiday or sickness.
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