The Legal Requirements For Goat-Keeping

Waiting for me to get out of their house!

Waiting for me to get out of their house!

£8,000,000,000. That’s how much the UK Foot & Mouth outbreak of 2001 cost. Eight billion pounds! Since then the regulations on keeping livestock like pigs, sheep, cows and goats have been tightened up and carry hefty fines if broken. It’s all pretty straightforward though, especially if you only have a handful of animals.

To keep up to date, it’s worth checking the DEFRA website.

As of today (10th July 2014 – ten days before my 38th birthday, in case you’re interested), these are the regs:

  1. Get a holding number. Known as a CPH number (which stands for country, parish, holding), this is required for all places where farm animals are kept. It’s even required if you have more than 50 chickens. The process for obtaining a CPH number is very simple. Call up the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) on 0845 603 7777. They’ll take your name and address and want to know what animals you intend keeping, then send you through a form that includes your shiny, new CPH number. There’s no charge for this.
  2. Get a herd number. This is the code that will be used for all movements and tagging It also registers you with DEFRA as a goat keeper. To do this, you need to call up your regional Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) branch. A list can be found here. Again, it’s very straightforward and, once done, you’ll not only get a herd number but a stack of AML1 movement forms and a herd register.
  3. Livestock Insurance. The thing everyone forgets! Including me. Until my goats hopped over the fence and started munching on my neighbour newly-planted flowerbed. Livestock can escape and cause a lot of damage – it’s even worth considering livestock insurance if you keep bees, since people have been known to try suing their beekeeping neighbours. What I did is get my home and contents insurance through the NFU. They’re the guys who insure most of the farms across the UK, so they know what they’re doing. The public liability cover is something like £2 million – even escapee pigs would be hard pushed to cause that much mayhem!
  4. Send Off Movement Form. When you buy your goats, you must complete an AML1 movement form. Here’s a PDF version for your perusal. Once completed, copies go to the seller, the driver (probs you), the keeper (def you) and DEFRA. Details required are:
    • CPH and address of holding you’re getting the goats from
    • Quantity and tag number of the goats (if they aren’t tagged, the herd number is all you need)
    • Signature of seller
    • Details of journey – loading time, departure time, journey length, arrival date – and details of the vehicle
    • CPH and address of your holding, and your signature
  5. Holding Register. Once the goats are safely installed in their new home, and you’ve sent off the AML1 form to DEFRA, make sure to note the arrival in your holding register. Again, here’s a PDF version with examples. The info you need to record is as follows:
    • Date of movement
    • Type of animal (that’d be ‘goats’)
    • Number of animals
    • Tag numbers (or herd number if no tags)
    • Your CPH number
    • Who drove then there
    • Vehicle registration
  6. Goat ID Tags

    Goat ID Tags

    ID Tags. If the goats haven’t been tagged, which should only be the case if you bought kids, you’ll need to buy a set of ear tags and a tagging tool to match. There are loads of places you can buy them online, but I’d recommend you avoid the circular ones as the bit that pieces the ear is brutal! The one that looks like the image on the right are best and should cost around £10 for 50. The applicator only costs a tenner too. I tend not to tag kids which are going to be raised for meat. Instead, I just drop off the tags together with the movement form when they go to the abattoir. Sad times.

And that’s pretty much it. If you’ve got these six things covered, you’re good.

Go on then. What are you waiting for? Get looking for some goats!


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