NI sheep imports from GB

Friday 31st December 2021
Category: All News

Breeding and production sheep and goats

Importing any new animals into your herd or flock obviously increases the risk for introducing disease – these include:

  • Maedi Visna Complex which affects Goats and Sheep.  The disease is an infectious, incurable, very slow developing condition which causes wasting and failing.  It cannot be detected early in an animal’s life.  Recent evidence suggests that health schemes for this disease may not give the level of assurance previously attributed to them
  • Brucellosis and Contagious Agalactia.  These do not occur in Great Britain, but do occur on the European mainland

The Northern Irish Sheep and Goat industry and DAERA wish to keep the island free from these diseases.

As a precaution DAERA, as part of its surveillance programme, is now sampling all new arrivals into Northern Ireland for the presence of these diseases as these animals would fall into the high risk category.

  • animals from Maedi Visna Non Accredited flocks will be sampled in isolation 5 months after importation
  • animals from MV/CAE Accredited free flocks/herds in GB will be sampled on arrival
  • sheep/goats from mainland Europe will also be sampled for Brucellosis and Contagious Agalactia on arrival
  • when appropriate we will sample animals at the port on arrival, otherwise they will be sampled at the farm

Please note that any animals which have been brought into the country which are subsequently found to be infected with these diseases will be slaughtered along with any other animals which they have mixed with and may have infected.  Compensation is not payable for imported animals slaughtered in these circumstances.

Import conditions for breeding and production sheep and goats

You must apply to DAERA Trade Section (028 77442 096) at least 10 working days prior to import to obtain a Specific import licence permitting you to import animals from Great Britain. The licence conditions are set out below.

Port of entry

Landing must take place at the port of Larne and the person in charge of the animals must report immediately following disembarkation to a Portal Inspector and must co-operate with DAERA staff as required. Animals may not leave the Port until a Portal Inspector has authorised such departure.

Sheep identification requirements

The animals to be imported must be clearly and permanently identified by means of two ear tags which permit tracing of their premises of origin. The identification used must be in accordance with the requirements set out in The Sheep and Goat (Records, Identification and Movement) (England) Order 2009 or equivalent legislation in Scotland and Wales.

Extra identification requirements

GB keepers who are selling or moving livestock to a keeper in NI will be expected to attach an “export” tag to animals printed with the country code ‘GB’, unless those animals already have the letters GB printed on their existing official ear tags.

Health certificate guarantees

The animals to be imported must be accompanied by an original health certificate and a schedule giving details of the individual ear numbers, breed, sex and age of the animals to which it related and the registration number of the vehicle in which the animals are being transported to Northern Ireland (NI). The necessary health certificate and the conditions therein required for export from GB to NI can be viewed at the following link link opens in a new window / tab)

The health certificate and the schedule must be signed by an Official Veterinarian (OV) appointed by the appropriate authority in Great Britain.

The health certificate referred to above must certify that:-

Breeding Sheep/Goats – Scrapie Requirements

Breeding sheep and goats moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland must either:

  • Originate from a Scrapie Monitored holding.
  • Be proven to have the ARR/ARR prion protein genotype and come from a holding where no official restriction has been imposed due to BSE or Classical Scrapie during the last two years.
  • Originate from a holding where no official movement restriction has been imposed due to BSE or Classical Scrapie during the last three years, has applied to join the Scrapie Monitored Scheme (SMS) and undertaken to comply with such rules. Such holdings will be awarded with Scrapie Qualifying Status (SQS).

Scrapie Qualifying Status

Scrapie Qualifying Status (SQS) is a new temporary status within the Great Britain Scrapie Monitored Scheme (SMS).

Animals from SQS flocks are not Scrapie Monitored as defined in the Scrapie Monitored Scheme rules but are eligible for export to Northern Ireland under a limited derogation within the relevant EU Regulations.

Application for Scrapie Qualifying Status

To avail of SQS, holdings must apply to join the SMS on or before 31 December 2021 and undertake to comply with SMS rules for the next three years after which they will progress to SMS (Controlled Risk) status.

Further details on SMS and SQS can be found here(external link opens in a new window / tab).

Breeding or Production Sheep/Goats

  • Breeding or production sheep must have been resident in GB for at least 6 months prior to the move and must have been resident on their current holding for at least 40 days in the holding with no contact with other imported cloven-hooved animals for 30 days before movement.
  • Uncastrated rams for breeding or production must for 60 days have been on a holding that has been free from brucellosis for 1 year and they must have undergone a fixation test to detect epididymitis with result  <50 IU/ml
  • The health certificate must certify that, within 24 hours of export to NI all the animals described on the health certificate were examined and found to be healthy, free from clinical evidence of infectious or contagious disease and were fit to travel.

    Supplementary certificate guarantees

    The imported animals must also be accompanied by a supplementary certificate for breeding/production sheep and goats signed by a Private Veterinary Practitioner certifying that:

    Maedi Visna (MV)/Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE)

    • the flock or herd of origin of the animals to be exported has fully accredited MV/CAE free status under the Scottish Agriculture Colleges (SAC) Scheme; or
    • for animals originating in flocks or herds not fully SAC MV/CAE accredited:
    • there must not have been any clinical or serological evidence of MV/CAE infection in the exporting flock or herd during the 3 years prior to export
    • all the animals for export are either more than twelve months of age, or if less than twelve months of age, come from flocks or herds which within the six months immediately preceding the date of export, have been sampled and tested with an Agar Gel Immunodiffusion test such that there is 95% confidence that less than 2% of the flock or herd are infected with MV/CAE
    • all the animals to be exported have remained in isolation for at least 30 days in accommodation approved by the appropriate authority in Great Britain and from the start of the isolation period no animal has been removed from that isolation until all the animals for export have left the premises. However if any animal was required to be removed from the isolation accommodation for other reasons before then they also have been subjected to an Agar Gel Immunodiffusion test for MV/CAE with negative results
    • within 30 days of export, all the animals in the isolation were subjected to an Agar Gel Immunodiffusion test for MV/CAE with negative results in the case of every animal tested
    • the certifying veterinarian has received an official statement signed by an authorised Officer of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development confirming that the prospective importer has made the required post-import isolation arrangements and that these have been approved by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

      Standstill requirements

      • any standstill period as a result of movements of animals onto the holding of origin, as imposed by The Disease Control (England) Order 2003 (or equivalent legislation in Scotland and Wales) has been complied with.

      Cleansing and disinfection requirements

      The transport vehicle must be cleansed so as to remove all visible organic matter. It must be disinfected with a disinfectant approved by Defra prior to loading of the animals. During transport the imported animals must not come into contact with animals that are not certified as being of the same health status.

      Post import conditions

      Immediately after landing, the imported animals must be moved directly to the holding of destination in NI as shown on the health certificate and must remain there for a period of at least 30 days, unless they are dispatched directly to a slaughterhouse. Failure to do so is an offence and may result in prosecution action being taken.

      The person in charge of the holding of destination of the imported animals must advise the local Divisional Veterinary Officer of their arrival following importation. This requires the importer to confirm movement of the animals onto the farm by submitting form SG2 to their local DAERA Office.

      All sheep and goats moving from GB to NI for breeding and production purposes will need to be re-tagged by the receiving NI keeper unless the sheep being imported are identified with a tag number previously issued by DAERA (UK 17 prefix) or a current EU Member State ( eg. DE, DK, IE or 372 prefix). This is because, under the relevant EU law, which will continue to apply to Northern Ireland, animals must be identified, upon entry from a third country, with a unique identification code, related to the holding of destination. Sheep and goats must be re-identified within 14 days of arriving in NI and before leaving the holding of destination in NI.

      Maedi Visna/CAE

      • on arrival in NI all animals that originated from SAC MV/CAE accredited flocks/herds in Great Britain will be tested for MV/CAE. Animals from flocks or herds not SAC MV/CAE accredited must immediately be isolated for a period of not less than 6 months and be tested by DAERA staff for MV/CAE with negative results, prior to release from isolation
      • the isolation facilities must have been inspected and approved by an Inspector of DAERA at least 2 working days prior to import

Information taken from