Shropshire Council

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Animal health and welfare

We have a statutory duty under animal health legislation to ensure that businesses involved with farmed livestock comply with relevant legislation. Take a look at GOV.UK's pages for a comprehensive summary of information on keeping farmed animals.

Our team of animal health officers regularly visit farms, markets and abattoirs to ensure high standards of animal health and welfare are practised.

Animal welfare advice

Our team of animal health inspectors provides advice and guidance to the agricultural community to help with compliance and understanding of new legislation. In recent years, much of our animal health and welfare law has changed and become ever more complex.

On a day to day basis we provide advice on subjects such as:

  • identification and tagging of animals
  • movement licensing and records
  • emerging farming issues, eg tuberculosis testing
  • animal welfare

If you require any advice, please contact us via the details on this page.

Fly-grazed or abandoned horses

Incidents of fly-grazed or abandoned horses falls under civil legislation rather than statutory, therefore we have no obligation to be involved if the issue is in relation to horses on private land.

If the horses are on the highway the police should be informed by calling either 999 or 101 dependent upon the severity of the situation (for example, on a busy main road).

Private landowners must follow the above legislation to aid removal of horses.

  • contact the police on 101 to log the horses being on the land without lawful authority (permission). An incident number will be issued and the land owner needs to note this down. From this point the time limit by which the horses may be lawfully removed will begin
  • make enquiries as to the owners (try and scan for a microchip if feasible) and place notices on the gateway, and locally where possible, with a description of the horses/time, date found/details to contact for the owner/date by which the owner must claim the horses
  • the time limit is 96 hours (four days, not including weekends/bank holidays). For example, if a horse was found to be in a field without lawful authority on a Thursday and the police were informed, the “owner” would have until the next Wednesday to claim it. A horse found on a Monday could be removed on the Thursday of that week
  • the landowner now has responsibility for the horse/s on their land and must ensure their welfare is upheld. Any costs/actions by the landowner must be recorded in case of claims by the “owner” – the legislation gives the landowner the right to claim any costs incurred from the “owner”
  • once the end date of the 96 hour period has been reached and no owner has come forward to claim the horse/s then ownership of the horse changes to the landowner. This means that the landowner may keep/rehome/sell/euthanase the horse/s at their expense.

These stipulations are extracted from the Control of Horses Act 2015.

We would recommend that you take legal advice either through a solicitor or through the Citizens Advice Bureau (tel: 03454 040506) if undertaking these civil law steps, and this would include where there is any dispute over ownership or payment for grazing etc, in order to ascertain whether this legislation is applicable.

In the event of the horse/s not being claimed, the animals will require passports. The new owner can apply to the original passport issuing office to obtain a duplicate passport, or else can apply for a new passport as appropriate. We can advise on this.

This service will have a pragmatic approach to horses being removed without the correct documentation in an emergency situation.