17 November 1995

Protect sheep away on tack with a contract

By Rebecca Austin

SHEPHERDS sending sheep away on tack must be aware they are still legally responsible for the flocks well being, says ADAS sheep specialist Lesley Stubbings.

Most arrangements between two farmers are in the form of a gentlemans agreement. But this could be dangerous as there are too many things which could go wrong, says Ms Stubbings.

"There are always people who arent satisfied that the arrangement is as they would like it to be."

To overcome this, Ms Stubbings recommends producers sign a winter-grazing contract. Her view is backed by Wilts-based sheep contractor Bob Blanden: "Its an excellent idea to have an agreement. You know where you stand, there arent any grey areas and everybody knows who has responsibility for what. More importantly, from a sheeps point of view, it must be a good idea."

In the contract it should state only healthy stock should be supplied by the owner. To ensure this they should be:

&#8226 Treated for scab in an approved manner.

&#8226 Free from foot-rot.

&#8226 Vaccinated against clostridial diseases.

&#8226 Treated for the control of intestinal worms and liver fluke.

&#8226 Accompanied by necessary documentation, including that needed to comply with the new transport rules.

There must also be adequate grazing and water – as well as fodder if the weather turns bad. The grazier should inspect the sheep daily. Although the sheep are in his charge, they continue to be at the risk of the owner from accident, illness or misadventure. Third party insurance is another point to consider.

Responsibility for concerns such as fencing, access and disease outbreaks must also be clarified, says Ms Stubbings.

"Although I believe some producers would be put off signing a contract in case they were tying themselves up, I believe it is better to know where you stand on money and what areas you are liable for," says Mr Blanden. &#42

&#8226 What is being agisted (eg in-lamb ewes) and what is their health status on arrival.

&#8226 What will the agister provide – and does that include supplementary feed and vet treatment.

&#8226 Payment details – how much/week and time and frequency of payment.

&#8226 Legal requirements – detailed records of female sheep movements are needed in order to claim SAPS.

&#8226 Owner access – plan to visit agisted sheep at least once and ideally twice during a three-month period off the farm.

Sheep producers who send sheep away on tack are still legally responsible for their well-being, says ADAS sheep specialist Lesley Stubbings.