Tail docking of sheep
However, the procedure should only be carried out if failure to do so would lead to subsequent welfare problems. It is preferable to leave the tails intact.
Sheep owners, keepers and breed societies are being urged to consider whether tail docking of sheep is necessary and secondly to be aware of the requirements concerning tail docking of lambs.
The Permitted Procedures (Mutilations) (Wales) Regulations 2007 state:
“Tail docking of sheep is permitted, only if sufficient tail is retained to cover the vulva in the case of female sheep and the anus in the case of male sheep”.
There are requirements on timing and use of anaesthetics for some methods and the code of practice for the welfare of sheep explains that docking should be carried out in strict accordance with the law. It should only be performed by a competent, trained stock person.
Farmers are reminded that docking animals’ tails to an excessively short length – ‘short-docking’ - is illegal. Owners who short dock their sheep could be prosecuted by the local authority and face a reduction of payments for claims under the Single Payment Scheme of up to 100% of the overall payment due.
The code of practice is available on the Welsh Government website, or from your divisional office and Animal Health Veterinary Laboratories Office.