Trading Standards – Animal Health

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COVID-19 guidance for livestock and horse keepers – 1.4.20

The latest government information and guidance on COVID-19 and the impact on livestock businesses/owners is now available.

North Lincolnshire Trading Standards Service is responsible for animal health and welfare legislation enforcement. Due to the current restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, there have been a number of issues reported across the UK. The Frequently Asked Questions below have been written to assist with these. This is for guidance only and not a definitive interpretation of the law, which only a court can give.

At all times, consideration must be given to the public health advice released by the government and guidance relating to business closures issued by Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS).

Can a person attend to their horse?

Yes, it is considered that as the owner or keeper of an animal, there is a statutory duty of care with regards to the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Therefore taking account of this legal obligation, this is permitted in accordance with the requirements of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020.

Can a person ride their horse?

Yes, it is considered that subject to this being part of the daily exercise referred to in Regulation 6 (2) (b) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020, this is permitted.

Can footpaths running through farmland be closed to the public to prevent risk of farmers becoming infected?

There are set criteria for closing footpaths and these are decided on a case by case basis.  If you have concerns, please contact your local Public Rights of Way Officer.

Livestock keepers might consider various options to reduce the risk of them coming into contact with walkers/gates etc that might carry the virus. For example:

  • providing an alternative route to minimise risks and erect signage requesting walkers to use the alternative route
  • fasten gates open where possible/practicable to prevent walkers needing to touch gates

Defra have published guidance on their website. 

Are contract workers, eg sheep shearers, contract lambers, foot trimmers, farriers etc permitted to work?

These workers are essential to animal welfare and should continue to carry out their work subject to following government and public health guidance relating to social distancing, biosecurity etc.

Are farmers required to post passports back to BCMS for amendment?

BCMS are introducing some temporary changes to their processes to help try and avoid (as far as possible) farmers having to make trips to post documents back to BCMS. The 26,000 farmers for whom they have a valid email address have been contacted with details of these changes.

Initial changes relate to passport amendments, but further changes are expected in relation to passport applications and death notifications.

Advice is to double check passport applications in the first instance to avoid requesting amendments at a later date.

Where an amendment is needed, the advice is:

  • write on the passport what information needs to be amended
  • write ‘Cancelled’ in large bold letters across the front of the passport
  • take a photo of the front and back page of the passport (if the amendment is to the date of birth, please also take a photo of your calving records)
  • email the photo(s) to bcmsenquiries@rpa.gov.uk
  • post the original version of the passport to the British Cattle Movement Service, Curwen Road, Workington, CA14 2DD when they are able to do so.

When BCMS receive the customer’s email, they  will make the necessary amendment and the farmer will receive the updated passport in the post.

They are also advising customers where possible to contact them by email bcmsenquiries@rpa.gov.uk and to use CTS Online or their automated Self-Service Line to report births, movements and deaths.

If customers require access to CTS Online, they are advised to email bcmsenquiries@rpa.gov.uk and this can then be sent.

Are Livestock Markets allowed to open?

At present, there is guidance that has been circulated via the Livestock Auctioneers Association (LAA) regarding the permitted continuation of livestock markets.

Can people with sheep on common land move them?

Yes, it is considered that this will be business as usual for most keepers who keep sheep on common land. As such, subject to implementing public health controls relating to social distancing, this can continue.

The business involved in the movement of sheep is not subject to the closure restrictions as detailed in the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020. They can continue operating and are permitted to travel for the purposes of work (Regulation 6 (2) (f) ) as this is in the spirit of the principles of Regulation 5 (1) (a).

Who are key workers in the food supply chain?

Critical workers are listed by the government and include those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery, as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods.

Farmers are essential to the food supply chain. As such, any person undertaking an activity involved in the agricultural industry for protecting the supply chain would be deemed as a key worker.  Examples may include:

  • Livestock hauliers
  • Animal by-product collectors
  • Those who work in slaughter premises
  • Feed suppliers
  • Poultry catchers

This is not an exhaustive list. There will be other roles in the agriculture sector that be classed as key workers.

Can people attend to their livestock if they live away from where they are kept?

Yes, it is considered that as the owner or keeper of an animal, there is a statutory duty of care with regards Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. As such, taking into consideration this legal obligation, this is permitted in accordance with Regulation 6 (2) (h) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020.

Is TB Testing still continuing?

Latest guidance – published 30.03.2020

There are currently no plans to cancel any statutory requirements for TB testing. This includes the requirements for pre and post movement testing. APHA is continuing to closely monitor the situation, and adjustments to TB testing instructions may be made as appropriate. Further details will follow as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses.

Can people continue to collect weaner / orphan lambs / store animals?

Yes, it is considered that as the owner or keeper of an animal, there is a statutory duty of care with regards Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. As such, taking into consideration this legal obligation, this is permitted in accordance with Regulation 6 (2) (h) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020.

What can people do if they are taken ill and not in a position to look after their animals?

In the first instance, contact must be made with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)

Guidance has been produced by Defra giving advice for people with animals.

With the risk of spread of the Coronavirus, do the paper movement documents have to be sent with the animals?

The legal requirements for cattle passports or movement documents for sheep, goats and pigs has not changed. It is suggested that all public health precautions regarding hand washing are followed when handling the documents and gloves may be worn as a protective measure.

As an alternative, movement documents for sheep, goats and pigs may be electronically completed and forwarded electronically to the transporter or the buyer for retention on their mobile phones rather than physically handling a paper document.

What are the rules for keepers that would like to undertake home slaughter?

You can slaughter your own livestock animal on your farm or property if it will be eaten by you and your family. However, you must adhere to the legal requirements set out in the home slaughter of livestock guide England and Wales.

Guidance on home slaughter can also be found on the business companion website.

What organisations can I refer livestock keepers to that may be struggling as a result of Covid 19 or the restrictions?

Livestock keepers can access free, impartial and confidential support from the following organisations by using the following helplines and websites:

Farming Help tel: 03000 111999

Farming Help website

The Farming Community Network (FCN) website

You are not alone (YANA) website

National Directory of Rural Support Groups tel:  0300 323 0400

Lincolnshire Rural Support network (LRSN) website

Tel:  0800 138 1710

The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) website

Tel: 0808 281 9490

Samaritans website

Tel:   116 123

Mind Website

Tel:  0300 123 3393

Further Information can be obtained by contacting the Trading Standards Service on 01724 297664.

We enforce animal health and welfare controls.

We do this to ensure the health and welfare of farmed livestock and to protect human health, by ensuring high standards of welfare, traceability and the quality of meat entering the food chain.

We deal with the following areas:

  • Disease control
  • Livestock movements
  • Welfare
  • Feeding of livestock
  • Animal by-products

For more information about registration/licensing of animal related activities, please visit Animal Welfare Licensing.

Management of horses

In addition to the welfare of farmed animals, we have developed a Protocol for the Management of horses. The protocol explains the various roles and responsibilities of the agencies involved and the processes that should be followed when managing horse related issues.

Keepers of birds or poultry

We maintain a database of poultry keepers throughout North Lincolnshire. This is to ensure that all keepers can be contacted in the event of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) or other poultry disease outbreaks. To assist with contingency planning in North Lincolnshire, if you keep poultry (no matter how many) and have not previously registered with the council please complete this survey.

For consumer advice:

Citizens Advice Helpline

0808 223 1133


For business advice:

Online Business Advice

Trading Standards
North Lincolnshire Council
Church Square House
North Lincolnshire
DN15 6NL



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