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Coronavirus: Livestock (Animal Health)

Are Livestock Markets allowed to be open?

The amended The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations implemented from Tuesday 7th April specifically Cow Close Uppermit the operation of livestock markets

Cleansing and Disinfection Requirements at Markets

The requirements for C&D have not changed. Guidance can be found here. However the exact method is not prescribed. For those undertaking C&D away from the market premises, they may fill in appropriate forms or document in any other way.

Can people with sheep on common land move them?

Yes, it is considered that this will be business as usual for most keepers who keep sheep on common land as such, subject to implementing public health controls relating to social distancing, this can continue.
The business involved in the movement of sheep is not subject to the closure restrictions as detailed in the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020, they can continue operating and they are permitted to travel for the purposes of work (Regulation 8 (2) (f) ) and this is in spirit of the principles of Regulation 6 (2) (a).

Who are key workers in the food supply chain?

Critical Workers are listed by the government and include those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery, as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods.Farmers are essential to the food supply chain as such any person undertaking an activity involved in the agricultural industry for protecting the supply chain would be deemed as a key worker.  Examples may include livestock hauliers, animal by product collectors, those who work in slaughter premises, feed suppliers and poultry catchers.  This is not an exhaustive list and there will be other roles in the agriculture sector that will be additionally classed as key workers.

Critical workers who can access schools or educational setting

Can people attend to their livestock if they live away from where they are kept?

Yes, it is considered that as the owner or keeper of an animal, there is a statutory duty of care with regards Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, as such, taking into consideration this legal obligation, this is permitted in accordance with Regulation 8 (2) (h) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020.

Is TB Testing still continuing?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, guidance and advice on TB Testing and relevant subjects for Wales and other UK Administrations is be provided and updated here.

Exempting cattle under 180 days of age from routine surveillance testing in unrestricted herds 

Normally all bovines 42 days of age and older must be included in herd skin tests carried out to maintain or restore the herd’s officially TB free (OTF) status. This should still take place if it is safe to do so in line with current COVID-19 public health (social distancing) guidelines.

If not all eligible animals are tested, then the test is considered incomplete, and the animals must be tested at a later date to complete the test. This is a requirement to maintain the recognition by international trade partners of the OTF status conferred to cattle herds in GB.

Welsh Government, Defra and APHA acknowledge the practical difficulties of conducting the tuberculin skin test in youngstock while maintaining the recommended two-metre minimum separation between farmer and tester. The appropriate methods to restrain calves for TB skin testing purposes may be at odds with Government guidance on social distancing.

Therefore, in England and Wales only, a temporary amendment is in place which applies retrospectively from 23 March 2020 until further notice. Movement restrictions will not be placed on OTF herds undergoing routine or targeted surveillance TB skin tests if cattle under 180 days old at the start of the test are left untested because, in the vet’s judgement, they cannot be tested safely in line with current COVID-19 public health (social distancing) guidelines. 

Please note that a TB herd test will only qualify for this relaxation if all other (older) eligible animals in the herd have been tested with negative results within the relevant test window. This temporary amendment will be kept under regular review while the social distancing measures related to the COVID-19 outbreak are in force.

Lines to take – Exempting cattle under 180 days of age from routine surveillance testing in unrestricted herds

This temporary measure can improve compliance with social distancing measures by removing the pressure on vets and farmers to handle small calves for TB testing.

This allows the majority of the herd to be TB tested, when the alternative might be that the entire test (or part of it) would have to be postponed for weeks or months.

It is considered unlikely that eligible animals under 180 days of age will be the only animals in a herd infected with bovine TB, which respond as reactors to the skin test. It is more likely, if there are TB infected animals in the herd, which are under 180 days of age, that the herd will also contain older infected animals. However, “unlikely” does not mean that such an event will never occur.

Data from testing in previous years has been carefully assessed and a veterinary risk assessment has been completed to inform the decision.  The overall opinion from both England and Wales is that the benefits of this temporary change are likely to outweigh the risks, in challenging circumstances, providing pre-movement and post-movement testing of eligible animals remain a requirement.

Can people continue to collect weaner / orphan lambs / store animals?

Yes, it is considered that as the owner or keeper of an animal, there is a statutory duty of care with regards Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, as such, taking into consideration this legal obligation, this is permitted in accordance with Regulation 8 (2) (h) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020.

What can be done if a keeper is taken ill and is not in a position to look after their livestock?

The Animal Plant Health Agency is still responding to welfare referrals and as such any complaints suggesting breaches of the welfare rules should be referred to them as below: 



  • 0300 303 8268 

Guidance has been produced by Defra giving advice for people with animals. 

Local authorities can play a valuable role in working with APHA and the farming industry to identify developing issues and assist in co-ordinating a response. Instances in which keepers are struggling to care for livestock should be discussed with your regional APHA as they can provide guidance on how a keeper may be able to address any welfare issues or concerns.  Keepers of livestock have a for a long time been encouraged to put in place contingency plans that outline local support if they become affected by illness and every effort must be made by local authorities to encourage and identify such support using the links and data that they can access. If no such support can be identified the NFU have agreed to assist in the co-ordination of any local farming industry response. As such local authorities are encouraged to contact the NFU Regional Livestock board secretaries in these circumstances.

With the risk of spread of the Coronavirus, do the paper movement documents have to be sent with the animals?

The legal requirements for cattle passports or movement documents for sheep, goats and pigs has not changed. It is suggested that all public health precautions regarding hand washing etc. are followed when handling the documents.  
As an alternative, movement documents for sheep, goats and pigs may be electronically completed and forwarded electronically to the transporter or the buyer for retention on their mobile phones rather than physically handling a paper document.

What are the rules for keepers that would like to undertake home slaughter?

You can slaughter your own livestock animal on your farm or property if it will be eaten by you and your family. However you must adhere to the legal requirements set out in the Home slaughter of livestock guide England and Wales.

Guidance on home slaughter can also be found on the business companion website at: 

What organisations can livestock keepers contact for support in light of COVID restrictions?

Livestock keepers can access free, impartial and confidential support from the following organisations by using the following helplines:

Farmwell Wales
Farming Help 
03000 111999  /
You Are Not Alone (YANA) 
The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI)  / 0808 281 9490  
Samaritans  Phone:   116 123
Mind  / 0300 123 3393 


Can footpaths running through farmland be closed to the public to prevent risk of farmers becoming infected?

There are set criteria for closing footpaths and these are decided on a case by case basis.  If you have concerns please contact your local Public Rights of Way Officer.  Livestock keepers might consider various options to reduce the risk of them coming into contact with walkers/gates etc that might carry the virus eg

  • providing an alternative route to minimise risks and  erect signage requesting walkers to use the alternative route
  • fasten gates open where possible/practicable to prevent walkers needing to touch gates

Defra have published guidance

Are contract workers eg sheep shearers, contract lambers, foot trimmers, farriers etc permitted to work?

These workers are essential to animal welfare and should continue to carry out their work subject to following government and public health guidance relating to social distancing, biosecurity etc.

Are farmers required to post passports back to BCMS for amendment?

BCMS are introducing some temporary changes to their processes to help try and avoid (as far as possible) farmers having to make trips to post documents back to BCMS.  The 26,000 farmers for whom they have a valid email address have been contacted with details of these changes. Initial changes relate to passport amendments but further changes are expected in relation to passport applications and death notifications. Advice is to double check passport applications in the first instance to avoid requesting amendments at a later date.

Where an amendment is needed, the advice is:

  • write on the passport what information needs to be amended
  • write ‘Cancelled’ in large bold letters across the front of the passport
  • take a photo of the front and back page of the passport (if the amendment is to the date of birth, please also take a photo of your calving records)• email the photo(s) to
  • post the original version of the passport to the British Cattle Movement Service, Curwen Road, Workington, CA14 2DD when they are able to do so.

When BCMS receive the customer’s email, they will make the necessary amendment and the farmer will receive the updated passport in the post.

They are also advising customers where possible to contact them by email, and to use CTS Online or their automated Self-Service Line to report births, movements and deaths. If customers require access to CTS Online, they are advised to email and they can then be sent the information needed  to register.

Are Feather and Fur Sales allowed?

The amendment to the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Wales) (Regulations 2020 permits livestock markets to take place. Livestock is not defined in the coronavirus restrictions legislation; however it is defined in the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995 which states:“livestock” includes any creature kept for the production of food, wool, skins or fur or for the purpose of its use in the farming of land. As fur and feather sales are typically for the hobbyist and not for the use in farming of the land it is felt that they fall outside the scope of the definition of livestock and that these sales should not be permitted.  

Government Expectations Relating to Inspections  ACTSO has received some enquiries about whether APHA Wales expect inspections to now recommence. We have received no official recommendations. It is for each Local Authority to do a risk assessment to determine when and whether it is appropriate to do inspections. If there is something that is a priority for enforcement action and posed a serious risk to public health or disease spread, APHA has said they will work with an individual LA to see what was possible and how they could work together to decide what was required and feasible to deliver in the circumstances.