All sheep keepers are subject to unannounced inspections of their flock by the Rural Payment Agency on behalf of Animal and Plant Health Agency.
Flocks are chosen at random taking into account:
- the number of animals (a variety of different-sized flocks will be inspected)
- animal health considerations
- new holdings
- results of previous inspections
- return of annual inventories by the end of December
- number of animal movements
- late movement reporting
- breaches of standstill orders
The inspector will carry out checks which include a:
- full head count of your sheep and goats and will look for missing or incorrectly applied ear tags
- detailed inspection of 60 randomly selected animals (or all animals if the flock is below 60) to check and electronically read the ear-tags for these animals – they will also trace a sample of these animals’ movement history through the records
- check of your farm records, including movement records against the movements reported to Animal Reporting and Movement Service (ARAMS) and the ARAMS1 licences you hold for movements on to your holding
Member Adrian Lloyd has a flock of 30 Ouessants in Cumbria. He was recently the subject of an unannounced inspection and posted the following advice to members on the Society’s Facebook page:
Anyone else have experience of an un-announced visit from an APHA inspector for a sheep inspection? Well – I’ve just had one and can give you the following advice:
1. Make sure your flock book is always up to date and current (ours is and we passed on this element)
2. Make sure all your movement licenses are in place and accurate / keep any ARAMS printouts as well – otherwise you’ll have to log on and prove the legitimacy of a movement on the spot (only one short tricky moment there).
3. Arghh – tagging / make sure you at least have a replacement set of tags for all sheep that have lost tags (either direct replacement set like for like if you bred them – or a set of red for those that you didn’t) – definitely received some advice on this one!
4. Blood testing – don’t let them!!! Advise them on welfare grounds that the needles they use are too heavy gauge and too large for our sheep – our inspector gave up and refused to attempt to test more than two sheep – worried about welfare. Refuse blood test on welfare grounds please.
Thanks for the good advice Adrian – we’d ask members to share their experiences of inspections in the forums or on the FB page.