Livestock Movements on and off commons

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Defra are currently reviewing their livestock identification and traceability arrangements and are hoping to develop a livestock database (so called LIP project) part of which is looking at moves to and from common land. In late January a number of committee members met Peter Morris (former NSA, CEO) working as a consultant to Defra and Laura Monkman, Defra to talk about the issues. We took them to Crosby Ravensworth common on one of the few snowy days we’ve had so far this winter.  

We stressed that is a complex area which requires as simple a solution as possibleand does not encourage people to break the law. Below is a list of our views:

  • all commoners should be individually informed what the rules are for movements on and off commons
  • standstill should only apply to sheep that have moved on to a holding, not all the animals on the holding
  • farms and commons should be linked and no standstill for sheep coming off or being returned to common, particularly when they are removed and returned within a few days
  • stray sheep gathered off the common should not trigger a standstill when returned to their own holding
  • movements on and off commons should be recorded on farm and shouldn’t have to be notified
  • this should apply to all rights holders within 5 or preferably 10 miles of the common (not just contiguous ones) and the passage between farm and common should be not be considered
  • movements to and from commons should consist of numbers of sheep moved and date, individual numbers can be used, but not required
  • cattle movements should be left as they are
  • the risk is far greater from movements to commons from further afield than from movements 'around' commons or to and from commons locally
  • the reduced stocking rates on commons in agri-environment schemes have further reduced what was already a low risk of disease transmission.
  • remember that it is most important to know where sheep are
  • common sense should prevail!!

We asked to be kept in the loop and given the opportunity to comments on recommendations for movements on and off commons before they get finalised and go out for consultation.