Livestock and animal welfare

How to complain about animal welfare or the conditions on a farm, welfare requirements when transporting livestock, and other laws about animal welfare.

Can I report a concern about the welfare of farm animals?

Licensed premises

If the concern relates to a premise that requires a licence, such as a kennels, dog breeder, or pet shop, contact the licencing team:


Welfare legislation:

Welfare legislation:

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 contains general laws relating to animal welfare under this legislation. It is an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal.

The Act also contains a duty of care to animals. This means anyone responsible for an animal must take reasonable steps to make sure the needs of the animal are met. So a person has to look after an animal’s welfare as well as to ensure that it does not suffer.

The welfare of farmed animals is additionally protected by a series of regulations covering transport, farm premises and slaughterhouses. Statutory codes of guidance accompany these regulations.

Read more about animal welfare on the GOV.UK website.

How do I complain about conditions on a farm?

Good stockmanship is vital in the fight against animal disease. Monitoring animals for signs of disease and following good farming practices is about essential ways to reduce the risk of disease and preventing the spread of disease.

The condition of livestock on a farm or the disposal of fallen livestock:

Nuisance from a farm, such as noise or smells:

Read more about noise pollution or air pollution (smells).

Working conditions on a farm:

Read about working conditions on farms on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.

Learn how to make a RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) report on the HSE website.

The condition of a watercourse:

Report pollution in a watercourse.

The condition of a public right of way:

Read about the maintenance of and reporting problems with public rights of way.

What are the welfare requirements for transporting livestock?

As a livestock keeper, you have a duty to comply with the legislation relating to the welfare of animals in transport. These issues include:

  • protection of livestock during transport

  • all animals are fit for the intended journey

  • records required

  • distance times and duration

  • staff training requirements

  • transport authorisation

  • vehicle type approval.

For any further guidance or information

Read more about the welfare of animals during transport on the GOV.UK website and how to ensure you comply with regulations.

You can also read the following guidance document:

DEFRA - Welfare of animals during transport - overview (pdf 169kb)

Are there any restrictions on setting off fireworks near premises where livestock or animals are kept?

Under current animal welfare laws, there are no specific offences or provisions relating to the setting off of fireworks and the council has no legal powers under this legislation to prevent fireworks being set off.

Animal Welfare Act 2006:

Animal Welfare Act 2006:

It is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to cause unnecessary suffering to livestock or domestic animals. When determining what is ‘unnecessary suffering’ there are a number of factors to consider, including:

  • whether the suffering could reasonably have been avoided or reduced;

  • whether the conduct which caused the suffering was in compliance with any relevant enactment or any relevant provisions of a licence or code of practice issued under an enactment;

  • whether the suffering was proportionate to the purpose of the conduct concerned;

  • whether the conduct concerned was in all the circumstances that of a reasonably competent and humane person.

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 does not apply to animals living in their wild state. Everyone should take reasonable steps to avoid any animal suffering. The council may investigate reports of the intentional or malicious setting off of fireworks for the purpose of causing unnecessary suffering to farm livestock.

The owner of an animal is always regarded as having primary responsibility for their welfare and must take all reasonable steps to prevent unnecessary suffering.

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