Publication - Advice and guidance

Welfare of sheep: code of practice

Published: 23 Apr 2012
Agriculture and Rural Economy Directorate
Part of:
Farming and rural

The aim of this code is to help people responsible for sheep to look after these animals properly.

Welfare of sheep: code of practice


1 In this Code the word "sheep" refers to all ovine stock, and an animal under six months of age is considered to be a lamb.

2 The recommendations are relevant to sheep under all husbandry systems. Following them will help to ensure that the welfare of stock is safeguarded.

3 The number and type of sheep kept and the stocking rate and/or housing density should depend on the suitability of the environment, the capacity of the farm, the competence of the shepherd and the time available to carry out his or her duties. Good stockmanship is of paramount importance in all systems of sheep production.

4 The relevant animal welfare legislation applies to owners as well as any person looking after sheep on their behalf, wherever the sheep are located. A written contract can be of value in ensuring that all parties are clear about their responsibilities in respect of welfare. However, the obligations imposed by law will still apply.

5 If any change in breed or type is contemplated, particularly if farming in difficult, extensive conditions, replacement should only be with a breed or type of sheep that is suitable for the location. For example, on hill farms, sheep should be sufficiently hardy and not prone to suffer as a result of extremes of climate.


Email: Pam Kennedy