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      OT APPROVED, 365MC637, FAROOQ, EVRi, 12.07.23 (BRENT) - J v4.pdf
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Keeping livestock (sheep) for own consumption?

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I live in a rented house in rural Scotland and my girlfriend lives in a rented house just short of a mile away. She has an eight acre field attached to her house in which she keeps her horses. When I mentioned in passing that lamb was my favourite meat, I playfully suggested keeping a few sheep and, although she is a vegetarian, said she thought it would be a good idea. She has worked with horses for almost 40 years and says that they are good companions and one of her horses particularly likes having sheep around. There are sheep and cattle in nearby but not adjacent fields and poultry in a run in the same field.


The question is, what are the laws and regulations about keeping livestock for one's own consumption? I know that EU rules have nailed down virtually all traditional farming methods.

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  • 1 month later...

I am sorry to be so slow in replying Geronimo. :-( I missed this somehow.


The best way to go about it is to go to a farmers market and buy a couple of oprhaned lambs in spring time. You'll have to bottle feed them for a bit untill they can cope on their own. As long as your girlfriend's land isn't regestered for 'Single Farm Payment' you'll have no problems. Many small rural butchers do a 'At home' service.

The biggest problem I can see is if your girlfriend gets involved in the feeding you might be stuck with a couple of pets!!!!!



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Hello there.


Have you looked at the DEFRA website to see if there are any rules? I don't know if there are concessions for small flocks.


I agree with Mr Lex about the pet thing. I'm fish-etarian and I couldn't live with animals being reared for food.


My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum




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Thanks for the replies - I had forgotten about the question so it was a bit of a surprise to get the notification e-mail especially as my girlfriend just happened to be sitting next to me having called round with a computer problem.


I was concerned with the consequences of something like scrapie or foot and mouth and all the other boring stuff that would put me off from ever being a farmer - that's why I mentioned the livestock in nearby fields.


The ways around getting squeamish about eating your own livestock are not having so few that you identify closely with one or other of them and not giving them names. I have been offered a couple of my girlfriend's hens which have started uselessly laying their eggs in the woods instead of the henhouse but having named one of them Marilyn I can't bring myself to wring her neck - Sophia and Rita were had by either a buzzard or a fox and their replacements have not been officially named. I don't mind shooting rabbits with my air rifle and either eating them myself or feeding them to my girlfriend's dog or cats.


I'll look at the DEFRA website and the local butcher is quite friendly - so will think again about this.

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OK, having asked our Farm Manager, this is the best we can come up with!!

Get a couple of orphaned lambs from a local farmer. Rear them on. Send them off to the butcher when the farmer sends his in, no problem and no paperwork!!


Hope this helps,



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  • 1 month later...

OK - maybe too late, but i hope you get a chance to read this!!


Firstly, before you even consider purchasing livestock - cows, sheep, pigs or goats etc for your field, that field must be registered with a County Parish Holding number - CPH which is available from DEFRA or Rural Payments Agency - whichever apply to your neck of the woods. Without this CPH number you will be breaking the law by bringing livestock onto the field.


Once you have a CPH number, you are free to purchase livestock, wherever and however you want. You must transport them in a manner suited to their status - i.e fully grown sheep in a trailer, orphan or cade lambs can be carried in a dog crate in the boot of a car.


If you go down the cade route, an average cade lamb must be kept with at least 3 others (if you dont want to use artificial heat to keep them warm) or at least one other if you use a heat lamp. You must keep more than one under animal welfare as they are a flock animal that feel security in numbers.


Once you have the said sheep on the land, you must ring your local council and ask for animal welfare and apply for a flock number. this is an individual number to you, and allows DEFRA to contact you in the event of any animal disease outbreak.


If you intend to slaughter the animal before its 12 months old, it requires one ear tag, which has to be fitted before you move it from its holding of birth, so in all fairness, this should already have been done for you. If you retain them for breeding, then the single tag must be replaced with a pair of RED (to indicate replacement) Electronic ID Tags.


When feeding cade lambs, they will require around 500ml of milk, at least four times a day, no need to feed after dark as they will sleep in the shed. They must have access to water and hay and will take hay from around 2 weeks old, but not be fully weaned until around 10 weeks. when weaned, feed them on starter pellets and allow access to the great outdoors, making sure they have adequate cover from rain and wind whilst outside.


DO NOT use cows milk replacer for sheep - its a lot cheaper but also contains copper which is toxic to lambs, fine for goats however.


When it comes to slaughtering them, you can perform a home slaughter, as long as all the meat arising from the slaughter is for your consumption only, and not given, traded or sold to anyone not directly resident in your house. If in doubt, take them to a registered abatoir, where for around a £10 each, they will slaughter them and provide you with a stamp on the carcass to prove it has been inspected and safe to eat. If you slaughter at home, you also have to follow certain rules and regulations regarding the disposal of blood, offal and organs you do not intend to eat - best to ring environmental health at the council for the specifics for your area.


If you are unfortunate to have a lamb die on you before you intended it, you are not allowed to bury it, it must go to a registered incineration plant and you will be asked to provide proof by DEFRA as you have to keep a flock book for 6 years showing what came and went from your field, and what medications etc they received during their lives


It all sounds too much, but its quite easy really, especially with only a couple of sheep - we raise around 40 - 50 cades every year, expecting to pay around £12 each for them from market and when they go off to market in the autumn we realise around 80 - 90£ each for them. they do make a profit!!

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Thank you for the comprehensive guide.


The practical stuff is interesting but unfortunately the bureaucracy conflicts so much with the philosophy behind the plan, i.e. to live outside the matrix, that I can't realistically see it happening. At least until the SHTF and all the DEFRA officials have more pressing things to occupy themselves.

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The red tape isnt that bad once you get used to it. In theory, the trouble you might fall into is once a year you need to return a "census" of your animals, which basically you photocopy your flock book and fire that over to them.


All they are really worried is that any coming and goings are accounted for. So, in ours for example, we record births , deaths and home slaughters. As for what happens to the arisings from the home slaughter - unless they are there on the day you do it, we just record "disposed off in accordance with regulations" the fact that you have probably fed the offal and bones to the dog, the sheepskins you have probably utilised yourself so really its only the head that needs to be disposed of properly, and a few wraps of a carrier bag and it goes off to the tip or you could find a secluded part of your holding and bury it!


Of course, this is all now illegal and do not follow my advice of course.......


If you just want a couple of sheep for the freezer, why not register a holding number - DONT put anything on the land, and just go to a market, buy some knackered sheep - usually marketed as cull ewes as they have had problems lambing this year so not wanted to breed from again - and transport them straight to an abattoir. Pick them up a day later and cut up at home? All above board and "the man" isnt on your back??


Not sure how it is in Scotland, but here in wales we (the collective we of the farmers and self supporters here) tend to do what we need to do to comply, but home slaughters are very common around here as are JCB's turning up in the middle of the night to bury the odd cattle carcass left over from the slaughter!

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