ARCHIVE: Other species
Maintaining high standards for animal health and welfare on the farm is essential for efficient production, establishing consumer confidence and managing risk of disease to both humans and animals.
The Farm Animal Welfare Council, which reviews farm animal welfare and advises government on the legislative or other requirements, recommends the following Five Freedoms for farm livestock:
- freedom from hunger and thirst
- freedom from discomfort
- freedom from pain, injury or disease
- freedom to express normal behaviour
- freedom from fear and distress
While these freedoms provide general guidelines to avoid suffering and other harms, there are areas where specific guidance is available:
- on-farm welfare
- welfare at transport
- welfare at market
- welfare at slaughter
The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007 details the minimum standards under which you must keep farm animals.
Similar legislation exists in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. For further information on animal welfare in these areas please contact the appropriate devolved administration.
Anyone attending animals must be familiar with and have access to appropriate welfare codes which are specific to each species.
Animal Health carries out welfare inspections which can be planned visits, spot checks or following up allegations of poor welfare. Notice can be served to help enforce regulations and, where necessary, Defra can initiate prosecutions for welfare offences.
In addition Defra has produced a number of codes of recommendations for welfare, for goats and deer. There are also specific codes produced for ducks, geese and turkeys.
The Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes (750KB) was laid before Parliament for approval on 22 July 2010. The code provides game farmers with information on how to meet the welfare needs of their animals, as required under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. It can also be used in courts as evidence in cases brought before them relating to poor welfare of gamebirds.
Deer are temperamentally different to other farm animals and require special handling to avoid harm to either the deer or the handlers.
Defra ‘s Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Livestock: Deer provides recommendations on the main management tasks including handling and inspection, stocking rates, shelter, fencing, feed and water, housing and slaughter.
In addition to the common areas of animal welfare covered by the The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2000 , there are a number of additional requirements covering accommodation. These are detailed in Schedule 7 of the regulations. A Code of recommendations for the welfare of rabbits has been published by Defra.
Horses used in agriculture are covered by The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2000, while non-farmed horses are covered under the Protection of Animals Act 1911-88.
Defra has a health and welfare page covering all horses and ponies, and has recently updated its guidelines for the welfare of all horses, ponies and donkeys.
Welfare at transport
The Welfare of Animals (Transport) Order (WATO) 1997 covers the regulations on transporting livestock, including requirements on water, feed, rest, staff competence, documentation and hygiene.
It is an offence to transport animals:
- in a way that causes injury or unnecessary suffering
- that are unfit to travel
- without arrangements for care
- using excessive force to control them
See Defra’s livestock movements advice page, Defra guides for further details.
You cannot transport deer that are in velvet on journeys longer than 50km and must take special precautions for journeys of less than 50km.
Welfare at Markets
Achieving a high standard of welfare at market requires:
- well-maintained, welfare-friendly equipment
- sympathetic handling by competent people
See Farmed Animal Welfare - Markets pages for more details.
As deer are sensitive animals, ideally, you should not bring them to a market. If they must, separate market days should be arranged in accordance with the British Deer Farmers’ Association.
Rabbits should have food and water, suitable hutches and must be handled correctly. Slaughter at markets must be done by competent people appointed by the market, in premises set aside for this.
Unaccompanied kids under four weeks old must be sold in pens with solid sides and spend at most four hours at market.
Welfare at slaughter
Slaughtermen must hold a registered licence and every slaughterhouse must have a competent person with the authority to safeguard welfare.
See Farmed Animal Welfare - Slaughter pages for more information.
There are two main areas concerning health
- disease control and surveillance
- identification and movement restrictions
Disease control and surveillance
The key requirements for maintaining high health standards are disease control and surveillance.
Defra has an A-Z disease index and a table of notifiable diseases, you must report suspicions of a notifiable disease your Animal Health Divisional Office. See also Defra’s information on disease control for more information.
Defra’s veterinary surveillance programme has details of diseases affecting horses, rabbits, deer and goats.
Identification and movement restrictions
For full details of movement requirements and restrictions see the livestock movements section of the Defra website.
Deer must be identified if they have been tested for bTB or when they leave their farm of origin. The tag must show both Defra’s and the British Deer Farmers’ Association herd registration and the animal’s unique number.
Standstills or multiple pick-up and drop-off rules do not apply. Whoever takes delivery must report movements within three days, using the movement document (AML 24).
When deer are sold, you must record:
- identification number
- date of sale
- name and address of vendor and buyer
- where sold
Movements or sales must be recorded within 36 hours and kept for three years.
You can find further details covering the identification and movement of deer in the animal health section of the Defra website.
- The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2000
- Code of recommendations for the welfare of goats
- Code of recommendations for the welfare of deer
- Code of recommendations for the welfare of rabbits
- Welfare of Animals (Transport) Order (WATO) 1997
- Code of Practice The Welfare of Animals in Livestock Markets
- Animal Health
- British Deer Farmers’ Association
- Health and Safety Executive
- Farm Animal Welfare Council
- National Equine Welfare Council
Defra Helpline – 08459 33 55 77 or email email@example.com
Page last modified: 31 August 2010
Page published: 1 July 2006