Castration, tail docking, ear notching

Why is it measured?

Castration, tail docking and ear notching are permitted under the Mutilations (Permitted Procedures(England) Regulations 2007 but, are painful procedures, that are strictly regulated. They may only be carried out using certain techniques, when the animals are of a specific age and for tail docking sufficient tail must remain to cover the anus of male sheep and the vulva of female sheep. The law specifies that if castration occurs after 3 months of age or after the first week of life if a rubber ring is used, an anesthetic must be used. However these procedures should only be carried out when absolutely necessary and, the use of anaesthetics and longer-acting analgesia should be strongly considered if they are carried out at any age. Timing of castration and tail docking is also important as if carried out too early it can interfere with colostrum intake. Many farmers are moving away from both tail docking and castration, realising that they can manage their flocks without the need for either. Ear notching is required by some common land graziers and by some pedigree societies however the new requirements for ewes to have individual ear tags may eventually replace this requirement.

How to assess and score using the AssureWel measure

6. a) Tail docking (docked short)                                                                                                                           Flock Measure
Assess the whole flock and tally the number of sheep seen where the tail has been docked short, i.e. the tail is over shortened or almost not present, the vulva is not covered by the remaining tail.

 
 6. b) Tail docking, castration and ear notching                                                                                                               Records
 a) Tail docking
Record if lambs are full tailed / docked / or a mixture (at least 10% of another)
Record if docking takes place within 48 hours / within 7 days
Record if docking carried out with analgesia (including anti-inflammatories) or anaesthesia

b) Castration
Record if lambs remain entire, are castrated or a mixture (at least 10% of another)
Record if castration takes place within 48 hours / within 7 days / older than 7 days
Record if castration carried out with analgesia (including anti-inflammatories) or anaesthesia

c) Ear notching
Record if ear notching is carried out

 
  1. Lameness
  2. Body Condition Score (Thin sheep)
  3. Dirtiness
  4. Fleece loss
  5. Sheep needing further care
  6. Castration, tail docking and ear notching
  7. Mortality

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