Farmers are being warned that the use of electro-immobilsers on cattle, including those which are inserted into a cow’s anus to prevent voluntary movement, is prohibited.

According to Defra’s animal welfare team, electro-immobilisers of this sort, are banned under paragraph 30 of Schedule 1 to the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007. These state that “an electrical current must not be applied to an animal for the purpose of immobilisation”.

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Equivalent legislation for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland also prohibits the use of electro-immobilisers, adds Defra. They are not the same, it points out, as electric “goads” which may be used on occasion to move animals and work by touching a rod to the skin of the animal which results in a momentary electric shock.

Anyone found to have used electro-immobilisation as a method of restraining animals risks prosecution and a penalty reduction for farmers subject to cross-compliance inspections under the single payment and other agri-environment schemes.