20 December 1996

Short sheep-count notice slammed

SHEEP farmers are angry at the short notice being given by Scottish Office officials wishing to check flock numbers against subsidy claims.

"An official has told me that he has been instructed to give only 24 hours notice and to accept only a funeral as an excuse for non-compliance," area president Donald Biggar told a Dumfries NFU meeting.

Vice-chairman Willie Davidson, Moffat, recommended that any call to gather sheep for inspection during lambing time should be referred on welfare grounds to the animal health office.

Robert Graham, Kirkcud-bright, said the officials had to use common sense. "There are days on end of low-lying mist when it is impossible to gather or count sheep. It is also stupid to give 24 hours notice to a hill farmer, who will take days to gather an entire hill flock," he said. &#42