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Process of an Inspection

The RPA inspects a minimum of 3% of holdings covering 5% of sheep each year on behalf of Defra.

The first contact would usually be made over the telephone, although an inspector might make an unannounced visit.  From the first contact, the inspection will need to go ahead within 48 hours.


It is not acceptable for a keeper to prolong an inspection without good reason.  If a keeper delays and the inspector believes it to be unreasonable this is classed as an obstruction and a ‘Whole Flock/Herd Movement Restriction’ will be imposed and the keepers BPS payment will be withheld.

Obstruction can take a number of different forms:

  • Not allowing an inspection to commence within 48 hours unless Exceptional Circumstances applies for example death of the keeper or a flash flood or heavy snow
  • Continual delaying tactics or a succession of excuses
  • Not gathering animals and or providing labour
  • Not producing the required records
  • Instructing an inspector to look at animals themselves
  • Making themselves uncontactable
  • Abusive, aggressive behaviour and verbal badgering
Please note: in all cases, the inspector will need to make two physical visits to the holding to meet statutory requirements before reporting it as obstruction.


The scope of the holding

It is the CPH that is selected for inspection, not the keeper although this is often the same.  The inspector will start the inspection by identifying the scope of the business and the holding with the keeper.  The inspector will establish if the keeper has:

  • Sheep and/or goats under their keepership on the selected holding
  • Any other sheep or goats on their holding but not under their keepership
  • Whether the holding has been incorporated into another holding under the 10 mile rule – or if other holdings have been incorporated under the selected holding
  • Common land that they use and if it is adjacent to the selected holding it is registered with Defra as linked?
  • Practices for shearing, dipping, dosing, winter lets and summer grazing.  This may identify ‘non-notified’ or unrecorded movements
  • Whether they claim subsidies

The inspection will go ahead on the selected CPH and if the keeper has sheep or goats on common land then this will be included in the inspection.

Need help or more information on sheep or goat inspections?

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Record Keeping

The inspector will need to inspect the keepers holding register to ensure that they keep a record of:

  • New and replacement identifiers/tags applied to sheep or goats
    • Please note: When replacing tags with new identification numbers the keeper needs to cross-reference the old and new numbers in the replacement section of their holding register, so it’s clear they belong to the same animal.  Red replacement tags must be used on any bought in animals.  Tags only need to be replaced if one or both of the old tags are lost or damaged.  All tags should have the PAS66 ‘kite mark’ embossed on them
  • Movements of sheep or goats ON or OFF their holding
  • Deaths of sheep or goats
    • Please note: record the date and the individual identification number, if known, of the animal that died
  • An inventory of sheep and goats on their holding on 1st December each year

The inspector will make a detailed check against a minimum of 25 of the most recent movements on and off the holding held on the Animal Movement and Licensing System and movement documents in the holding register. 

The holding register must be retained for at least three years from the last day that the last recorded animal moves OFF the holding or dies.

Please note: Produce any supporting documentation if you can, for example, movement documents, market invoices and continuation sheets, kill sheets etc. If you keep records anywhere else, a farm diary, lambing records make sure they are available.


Physical check

The inspector will perform a full headcount of sheep and/or goats on the holding including sheep and/or goats on common land and a physical check of a sample of 60 animals or the whole flock if less. The sample should be a cross-section of the flock. The inspector will be checking that the animals are tagged correctly against legislation and the age of the animal.  The inspector will scan sheep and goats if they are electronically tagged and check double tags for goats. If lost tags amount to 35% or more of the sample scanned then more livestock will be checked (if possible).

Of the 60 animals that have been scanned, 10% of the fully EID sheep and/or double identified goats will be traced back to the holding register. So the inspector will be looking in the ‘first date of identification’ section of the holding register for home bred animals or in the ‘ON movements’ section for bought in animals or in the ‘replacement tags’ section to ensure they have been properly documented.


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