The Inspection

The RPA inspects a minimum of 3% of holdings covering 5% of sheep each year on behalf of Defra. Holdings will be chosen at random or on a risk basis, for a sheep and goat inspection. If you are given notice of the inspection, you will only be given up to 48 hours’ notice. 

The inspector will carry out checks which include:

  • Full head count of your sheep and goats and will look for missing or incorrectly applied ear tags
  • Detailed inspection of 60 randomly selected animals (or all animals if the flock is below 60) to check and electronically read the ear-tags for these animals – they will also trace a sample of these animals’ movement history through the records
  • Check of your farm records, including movement records against the movements reported to Animal Reporting and Movement Service (ARAMS) and the ARAMS1 licences you hold for movements on to your holding

If the inspector finds tags that have been applied incorrectly, they will check more than 60 animals.

The inspector will have a list of the last movements reported via ARAMS. They will check the last 25 of these against the holding register and movement licences on farm. If there are mistakes/missing information, they will look back further.

They will check that each of the following sections are being completed in a holding register:

  • Movements onto the holding
  • Movements off the holding
  • Births & first identification on the holding
  • Replacement tags
  • Deaths
  • Annual inventory

This information can be kept electronically or on paper using a Defra holding register. You must keep the holding register for 3 years after the last animal in it has left the holding. Movement licences must also be kept for 3 years.

The inspector may also take a blood sample from some of your sheep to check for brucellosis. 


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, is it 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.

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