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

Breeding Techniques

    Schedule 1, paragraph 28 of the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2000 (S.I. 2000 No. 1870) states that:

    • Subject to sub-paragraph 2, natural or artificial breeding or breeding procedures which cause, or are likely to cause, suffering or injury to any of the animals concerned shall not be practised.
    • Sub-paragraph 1 shall not preclude the use of natural or artificial breeding procedures that are likely to cause minimal or momentary suffering or injury or that might necessitate interventions which would not cause lasting injury.

      Schedule 1, paragraph 29 states that:

    • No animals shall be kept for farming purposes unless it can be reasonably be expected, on the basis of their genotype or phenotype, that they can be kept without detrimental effect on their health or welfare.

  1. The body condition of the ewe and nutritional management prior to tupping have a marked effect on the ovulation rate and eventual litter size. The ram should also be in appropriate body condition. Farmers and shepherds should be aware of the influence of pre-mating management upon the subsequent needs of the ewe in pregnancy; and should plan accordingly.
  2. It is possible to manipulate the time and pattern of lambing by using vasectomised rams, intra-vaginal progestagen sponges - with or without pregnant mare serum gonadotrophin (PMSG) or administration of melatonin. If the lambing date is changed and/or litter size is increased, account should be taken of the special requirements for feed, labour and other inputs both before and at lambing time, when the welfare of ewes is under particular pressure. In particular, housing or shelter should be available if lambing is to take place in adverse weather conditions.
  3. Any person using artificial insemination should be trained and competent in the technique.
  4. Laparoscopic artificial insemination is a surgical technique which must be carried out only by a veterinary surgeon using an anaesthetic.
  5. Treatment of ewes using hormones to produce multiple embryos and subsequent embryo transfer must be carried out only by a veterinary surgeon. Embryo transfer is an act of veterinary surgery.
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