New sheep movement rules could cause problems for large numbers of flocks.

The rules require all movements, of more than five miles from a farmer’s main holding, to be recorded and for sheep to be tagged with ‘S’ tags even when the farmer controls both areas of grazing.

The new rules make little sense and simply add another layer of unnecessary bureaucracy according to farmers.

Farmer George Lunn from Wareham, Dorest, said: “We will now have to send in movement forms when simply moving sheep around our own land.

“On top of that, there is some confusion as to whether the six-day standstill applies to these movements or not.

“The letter we received from DEFRA implies it doesn’t, but DEFRA’s helpline says it does. If it does it will restrict what we can do significantly.”

Difficult

National Sheep Association chief executive John Thorley admitted the new rules would be difficult to work for many flocks.

But he said they were better than the original proposal from DEFRA which would have required ‘S’ tags and movement forms for all movements between different blocks of land under the same management.

“The government proposal would have meant that even moving sheep across a road would require an S tag.

The new rules are much more workable than that.”

Following the original proposal NSA surveyed 2200 producers nationwide and 80% of respondents said they could cope with a five-mile ruling as has been implemented.

“We didn’t want to have any distance restriction placed on sheep moving between land in the same management group, but there was no way government would have agreed to that.

So we had to go for the best option available; Scotland had already agreed a five-mile rule and that was the option we were left with.”

And while this option will create difficulties, the alternative is a loss of the double tagging derogation which would mean much tougher record-keeping than is presently required.