Friday, 22 November 2019

A trip to Attleborough means one thing...

One of our ram lambs died during the night. It had not shown any signs of sickness. However, he was distinctly undersized, half that of most of  the other lambs born this year. He was quite timid and readily gave way to the other sheep at the trough whenever supplementary feed was provided. He was a single, born to a first time mother who was not very maternal. I think this got him off to a poor start nutritionally in his first few weeks. He had to be separated out at one point and given additional feed without competition from the rest of the flock to help build him up and he responded well to this. The last few weeks, since the ram went in with the ewes, he was with two ewe lambs who are not being bred from this year, so he had company.

Anyway, he was the reason for the 30 minute drive along the A11 to Attleborough to a 'fallen stock company' otherwise known as the knacker. Its the second time we have delivered a lamb carcass there. We used the same company to despatch and take away a lame sow a couple of years ago.  

When it comes to disposing of sheep that have died 'on farm' there are legal requirements and the process has to be documented. You can't (or shouldn't) just bury it in a spare corner.  It's also a legal requirement to maintain livestock details on a holding register so that in theory every animal can be accounted for. Hence the need for a Movement Licence every time an animal moves to or from the holding. In addition, each December sheep keepers (and goat keepers) have to complete a census return of the number of animals on their holding. When it comes to cattle each animal has an individual passport where essential information is recorded and accompanies any cattle movements. 

The arrangements for sheep and cattle are fairly stringent because of some serious disease outbreaks that have taken place in the past which had enormous economic (and personal) consequences nationally. As a means of protecting the food chain it is not foolproof as evidenced by the horsemeat scandal in mainstream supermarket meat products a couple of years ago. 

If I am subjected to a farm inspection I will at least be able to provide documentary evidence for the legitimate means of disposal of the lamb in question. Hence today's trip to Attleborough


  1. Thank you for this matter-of-fact insight. May I assume that the ram lamb was called Sam? I am just being silly when for you it must have been rather upsetting. Sorry.

  2. Annoying to lose a lamb after several months but sheep(and goats) do seem to do that drop dead thing sometimes. I hope all the rest are doing well.

    1. All the others are growing well, Sue. Four are off for a planned departure after the weekend.