Roadblocks for breeding sheep exports

Wednesday 24th February 2021
Category: All News

The UK’s exit from the EU on 1 January has created some (largely unexpected) roadblocks for moving breeding stock from Great Britain to Northern Ireland and the EU.

The immediate problem is the lack of physical infrastructure at ferry ports to handle live animals sent from a Third Country, which is what the UK is now it is no longer in the EU. The suggestion this will be in place for July is optimistic but, if it is achieved, there is a lot for breeders and transporters to get their heads around before then.

For people physically moving animals, it’s driver certificates of competence and vehicle checks, as UK paperwork is no longer valid on the continent (and probably not NI either now it has to follow EU rules).

For sheep breeders moving sheep to the EU or NI, it’s the phytosanitary controls. This means, essentially, the export of sheep and germplasm (semen, ova and embryos) now need to meet additional requirements in three areas.

  • Export certificates – Changes in the certification process for farmers and vets are detailed at
  • Health declarations – The same website has details on the health declarations needed for John’s disease, caseous lymphadenitis, ovine pulmonary adenocarcinoma, maedi visna, caprine arthritis encephalitis and contagious agalactia. Members of the Premium Sheep and Goat Health Scheme (PSGHS) can use this as evidence of disease status.
  • Classical scrapie – New scrapie requirements can be met in one of two ways: by flocks being part of SRUC’s Scrapie Monitoring Scheme for at least three years, or export animals having had a genetic test at a Defra-approved lab to show they are resistant to the disease and come from a holding that has had no restrictions imposed due to BSE or scrapie during the last two years. The current Defra-approved laboratories are those run by APHA and SRUC.

Copy taken from February/March edition of NSA’s Sheep Farmer publication.