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I would like to buy some sheep, but am unclear about the regulations surrounding the keeping of sheep, please explain.

Each farm/holding/field should have a ‘Holding Number’ issued by DEFRA and this should consist of a 9 digit no. e.g. 12/345/6789. Without this number no animal can be moved, as it forms a fundamental part of the ‘movement license’ which details the identity of the sheep (from a mandatory ear tag), the details of the holding they are leaving, who transported them and where they are going to.

The keeper/owner is responsible for keeping a record of all movements on and off the holding. This should be kept in a Movement Book. It may be possible to obtain one free of charge from the Trading Standards department of your local authority, if not Steve Murphy from Market Drayton, Shropshire has produced a Movement Record Book and also a Veterinary Medicine Record Book costing around £5 + pp each. He can be contacted on 01630 655566.  Alternatively they are sold on ebay.

Movement forms should be obtained from your Animal Health Officer, usually based within the Trading Standards Dept. of your local authority, who should receive the top copy of the movement form when animals are moved onto your holding.

When a sheep/goat/cow arrives on your holding NO animal, unless going for direct slaughter, must be moved until 6 days for England and Wales, 13 days for Scotland after the date on the last movement onto the holding. If sheep arrive on a Sunday, the next movement can take place the Sunday after. In the case of pigs, it is 20 days.

The keeper/owner is also obliged to record all medicines given to individual animals, either by the vet or keeper and should include details of product used, when purchased and the withdraw from slaughter period for the product.

These details are correct at the time of writing, but as legislation changes frequently it is best to consult your Animal Health Officer for up to date information