NSA welcomes long awaited Animal Welfare Committee report

3rd October 2023

The National Sheep Association (NSA) is encouraged by some of the recommendations made in the ‘Animal Welfare Committee report on the Implications of Castration and Tailing in Sheep’, recently made available by Scottish Government.

The Association is urging UK governments to now consider what next steps will be made following the report to advance UK sheep health and welfare.

NSA Chief Executive, Phil Stocker, says “NSA welcomes the publication of the AWC report on Castration and Tailing and is especially encouraged to see the appreciation from the committee that there is value in a four-nation, consistent approach to any future action or amendments to the regulations, ensuring the removal of potential confusion on best practice in the different home nations and frictionless trade across UK borders continues.”

The recent report concludes that current operations of tailing or castrating lambs do impair the comfort of animals and that solutions should be investigated to minimise this.

Mr Stocker continues: “NSA is in agreement that work needs to be done to find solutions to minimise any discomfort felt by animals. This report is an opportunity for new techniques and innovations to be thoroughly explored and legislation amended to accommodate these.”

NSA does still consider it important that the the fundamental reasons for tailing and castration to improve the welfare of stock, including preventing flystrike and unwanted pregnancies must not be ignored in any future recommendations. NSA is clear that any future amendments or proposals to legislation must consider the whole farm and supply chain implications.

Mr Stocker concludes: “Although NSA is pleased to see both Scottish and Welsh Governments have published this report on their websites, it is especially disappointing that Defra has fallen behind. Defra’s own findings and responses from this report were expected to be published months ago. We would welcome further opportunity to discuss this with Defra at the earliest given opportunity.”