Warning over excessive sheep tail docking

Government agency Animal Health has warned sheep owners in England, Scotland and Wales that docking animals’ tails to an excessively short length could result in prosecution.

The warning has been issued by Animal Health after it noticed a rising trend in the numbers of sheep, particularly pedigree breeds, which have undergone illegal short-docking which is said to be liable of creating welfare issues in docked animals.

Animal Health veterinary services manager for welfare Paul Honeyman said: “At present it seems to be fashionable among some sheep owners to short-dock lambs – particularly pedigree lambs. This is illegal, and sheep keepers in England, Scotland and Wales can be prosecuted if they are found to have short-docked their animals.

“The practise can damage the nerves and muscles of sheep, leading to serious welfare issues that can cause considerable suffering in later life and result in hefty veterinary bills for owners.”

Depending on the severity of the regulations breach, Animal Health added sheep owners who short dock their animals can have their payments under the Single Payment Scheme reduced by between 1% and 100% of the overall payment due.

>>CIWF makes tail docking complaint to EC

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