New Sheep Keepers

Sheep, even Jacob sheep are surrounded by a raft of legislation and rules which govern animals kept for food including their traceability, welfare and transport. This page provides some basic guidance as a point of reference, but is not intended to be exhaustive. Your Regional Contact Member will also be able to help you with local issues. Please don’t be too put off, it’s not as bad as it sounds and you will soon get to grips with it all. Enjoy your sheep keeping!

People new to sheep keeping can find this daunting and confusing, so the following check list should help you be aware of what you will need to do.

JSS Guide

Download a copy of the JSS guide 'An Introduction to Jacob Sheep' here. This is a guide to the breed & covers lambing through to wool, the breed standard as well as common ailments such as fly strike.

Check The Rules

Rules do change and they also vary in different parts of the UK. The best advice is check with the DEFRA website The 'Animal Disease', 'Animal Welfare' and 'Livestock Movements, ID & tracing' pages are all relevant.

For Scotland go to

Register With DEFRA & obtain A CPH Number

Whether you keep a few paddock grazers or a commercial flock you need to be registered with DEFRA. Before moving livestock to your holding you need a County Parish Holding (CPH) number for the land where the livestock will be kept. If you don’t already have a CHP number then you will need to phone the Rural Payment Agency on 0845 603 777 and ask to be allocated an Agricultural Holding Reference Number (Holding Number) for your land. You do not have to own the land.

Flock Number

Next you need to register with your local DEFRA Animal Health Office, phone 0118 959 6695 (DEFRA – Animal Health) and ask to be allocated a Flock Number. You will need the Holding Number to get this. This is the UK flock number that will go on the ear tags of any sheep that you breed. They will also provide a helpful booklet on sheep husbandry. Having a Flock Number a means that you are now a “Registered Keeper of Sheep” and will need to aware of current legislation and requirements. These include:

  • Welfare legislation and codes of practice
  • Animal Identification requirements
  • Animal Movement requirements
  • Animal Transport requirements
  • Record keeping requirements
  • Disposal of dead animals

Codes Of Practice

All the welfare codes of practice and sheep identification rules that you need can be found at . Go to the home page, click on Food and Farming and click on sheep and goats on the left hand side of the page.


Electronic Identification or EID - Animal identification requirements have all changed again and from 1st Jan 2010 all Jacob sheep will need to carry double ID tags, one of which must be electronic and must be yellow. The UK number and individual ID are recorded on the chip and also printed on the tag. The secondary tag can be any colour except yellow, black or red and must also show the UK number and individual ID but can also contain management information, e.g. flock name or a year letter. All stock destined for breeding must be identified in this way and any animal that is kept longer than one year of age. One year is taken as 30th June of the year following birth (so in fact more like 15 months). It will not be necessary to buy the equipment that reads the electronic tags.

JSS Registration Tags

Pedigree breeding stock will also need to carry the Jacob Sheep Society registration tag which connects the animal to its pedigree certificate and societies breeding records. There are also some rules on missing and replacement tags (always an on-going problem), if an animal loses one tag, this can be replaced with an identical tag (if it loses an electronic tag, it will be possible to order an identical one from the tag supplier). If still on the holding of birth it will be acceptable to replace both tags with new ones and to record this in the holding register. If it loses both tags and cannot be identified, or if it is not on the holding of birth, the replacement tags must be red.

Record Keeping Requirements

The paper work that you are going to need to keep includes Animal Movement Licensees (AML) You will also need to contact your local Trading Standard Office (this is a part of your County Board) and ask for some Animal Movement License, (AML1) forms, you can usually get these from your County Board website. A form has to be completed every time animal’s move on to or off your holding. You need to send a copy of the AML to Trading Standards or Scottish Animal Movement Unit (SAMU) in Scotland and keep a copy for your records. Movements between land parcels with the same Holding (CPH) number, within 5 miles of the main holding, and the ownership/keeper-ship of the animals remains the same, need not be recorded or reported. Movements between different CPH numbers where the ownership/keeper-ship remains the same can be batch recorded (e.g. 20 sheep, UK123456 moved from A to B), these movements to be recorded on an AML1 and in the holding register. Movements between different CPH numbers where ownership/keeper-ship changes will require individual animal’s numbers to be recorded on the AML1 and in the holding register.

Holding Register

You will be issued with a new style Holding Register when you become a sheep keeper. This is a running record of all animals, births and deaths and records all sheep movements onto and off a holding. It is required for disease control purposes.

Medicine Book

You must record any medicines you administer to your stock, when, what dosage and the source of the medicines. This is useful because it also helps you to keep track of the dates on your worming and anti fly strike treatments also it helps you to comply with the withdrawals of medicines requirements when sending stock for slaughter. Don’t worry if you don’t use a computer, DEFRA will send you the relevant documents on tagging, movements and your holding register book when you register as a keeper of sheep.

Transport Rules

If you are going to transport your sheep and depending on how far, you may also require a Certificate of Competence for Transporting Livestock. Go to The NPTC website to find out. Younger people who took their driving test later than January 1997 will also need to take a trailer-towing test; this one is a DVL requirement.

Animal Disposal

In event of a death, you will need to locate your nearest incinerator or fell monger. It is no longer legal to bury a sheep or even a lamb. Your vet should be able to tell you where to go, If you are not already registered, you should do so with a local Veterinary Practice and keep a note of their out-of-hours/emergency number.

If you have never kept sheep before, then you should seek out some training on basic welfare tasks and the shepherd’s calendar. Try your local Agricultural College or Smallholders Association or Small Shepherds Club or most flock owners will be happy to help. Your Regional Contact Member may also be able to help you.

Good Luck

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