Many of the ‘stringent’ rules governing the live export of sheep stem from previous foot-and-mouth incidents, according to the Minister for Agriculture this week.

The Minister said the somewhat more stringent rules on intra-community trade in sheep compared with cattle, in particular, the “standstill” requirement, stem from the foot-and-mouth outbreak in 2001 when the general view was that movements of sheep largely contributed to the spread of the disease.

The Minster also said with regard to identification of sheep, all ovine animals intended for intra-Community trade or export to third countries are required to be electronically identified in accordance with the provisions of EU regulations, to ensure complete traceability of each animal.

He said the introduction of EID tags for lambs would not remove the obligations under the EU legislation relating to residency on a holding or the 21 day “standstill” period.


Under EU legislation, breeding and fattening sheep must be certified as having been continuously resident on a holding of origin for at least 30 days prior to export, including a “standstill” period of 21 days prior to export during which time no sheep have been introduced on to the holding.

A derogation applies where sheep introduced during the standstill period are completely isolated from all other animals on the holding.

To avail of this derogation, isolation must be notified to and pre-approved the Department.

Sheep being exported for slaughter must be resident on the holding of origin for 21 days but a standstill period is not required if the animals are consigned directly to a slaughterhouse in another Member State.

A 21 days standstill period is required in the event that sheep for slaughter are exported from an approved assembly centre or dealer’s premises and/or stop at a staging point in another Member State (transit or destination).

According to the Minister the rationale for these requirements is to ensure that sheep going for export do not come in contact with other animals or become infected following such contact.