Ah yes, with livestock comes so much red tape you should be able to make fences out of it..

So to start with you need an agricultural holding number(CPH) which you can get from the Rural Payments Agency . Strangely, I cannot find any information on this on their own webpage - but there is a telephone number on DEFRA's webpage. I despair.

Anyway, they take some details - and send you a completely unsuitable form to complete, then give you your number. You cannot buy any animals without that number, as the seller will want to quote it on their movement papers.

so - you have found some animals you want to buy, you have your CPH, next you need to think about transportation rules. On 5 January 2007, DEFRA brought in new rules for transporting animals, and do a handy leaflet on the subject.

For buying sheep, you will also need a flock number which you get from your local animal health office (used to be called state veternary service ). DEFRA can tell you where you local office is, or they have a handy map thingy on their website.

Next, the animal health will send you a big pack of information including how to keep records. There are three really good reasons to keep records on your animals...

1. It's the law... and they can inspect your records

2. It's good for your own animals that you know what medication was given when, when the animals were purchased etc, so you can make wise decisions abotu care, replacement etc

3. Many aspects of paperwork depend on whether you are making a profit or not. It's highly unlikely you will make a profit from keep a few animals on a small holding.. but you may need to prove that to the powers that be..

From 11 January 2008, the rules of animal identification (i.e tagging and record keeping etc) changed in England, to come in line with the rest of Europe.

DEFRA guidance for keepers in England, rules for identifying sheep and goats

and from DEFRA website All sheep and goat keepers in the UK are required to keep a flock/herd register. This record may be kept on paper or electronically. Keepers can determine their own method for maintaining the record (book, file, spreadsheet) but must ensure that the information recorded is in the same format and order as the register above - and they do provide :

DEFRA Holding register



this information is accurate to the best of my knowledge...however they do keep changing the rules.. so check. DEFRA are usually pretty helpful when you phone them up. The paperwork detailed here only applies to England.. if you live in a different country.. then you will have to fight them on your own!