This check list includes the legal requirements concerning the keeping of sheep and goats. The requirements related to the keeping of animals must be complied with, regardless of the number of animals or the length of their keeping. The requirements aim to safeguard animal welfare and ensure that animals do not pose a risk of disease to other animals or to humans.
It is also important to remember that the skills of the keeper and knowledge of the needs of the species in question also have an impact on animal welfare. Before acquiring animals, it is necessary to learn about the behaviour, care, and the nutritional needs of sheep and goats and the requirements for the place where they are kept. In this context, it should be noted that sheep and goats must have access to shelter from the weather in the pasture. Shelter can either be built or, for example, formed by trees. It must also be taken into account that sheep and goats are social animals and herd animals so it is not recommended to keep them alone.
The owner is responsible for the health and welfare of his animals throughout their lifetime.
- Register where the sheep and goats are kept (establishments) and the keeping of these animals in the electronic Eläintenpitäjä- ja pitopaikkarekisteri (Register of animal keepers and establishments) or notify them to the rural business authority in your municipality
- In a town plan zone, contact the health protection authority and, if necessary, the construction supervision department of your municipality
- Comply with regulations related to the registration of sheep and goats
- Read the animal welfare regulations applying to sheep and goats
- Animals from abroad? Remember the import requirements!
- Take care of animal health and the prevention of animal diseases
- Keep a record of the number of animals and the medication given to them
- Learn about the slaughter and killing requirements for sheep and goats
- Find out how to dispose of a dead or slaughtered animal
1. Register the establishment where the sheep and goats are kept and complete the notification of keeping sheep and goats
All keepers of sheep or goats must register the place (establishment) where the animals are kept in the electronic Eläintenpitäjä- ja pitopaikkarekisteri (Register of animal keepers and establishments) or notify them to the rural business authority in your municipality. Keeping animals at the establishment shall also be reported to the Eläintenpitäjä- ja pitopaikkarekisteri or to the rural business authority in the municipality. The registration requirements apply to the keeper of even one sheep or goat, regardless of whether the animal was purchased or simply "rented" to keep the grass down. When animal keeping ends or is suspended for more than six months, this must be reported to the Eläintenpitäjä- ja pitopaikkarekisteri. The record-keeping obligations of the establishment is implemented through compulsory registration notifications in the sheep and goat register.
More information about registration (in Finnish and Swedish)
Registration form (in Finnish and Swedish)
2. In addition, in a town plan zone, you should contact the health protection authority and building control department in your municipality
You can ask the health protection authority in your own municipality for more information on keeping sheep in a town plan zone. If the purpose of the buildings changes or if new buildings are built, contact the building control authority in your municipality if necessary.
3. Report sheep and goats and events involving them to the sheep and goat register within the deadlines
Sheep and goat keepers must take into account the regulations concerning the marking and registration of animals. The regulations oblige all keepers of animals, regardless of the size and purpose of the activities. It is a requirement that each individual animal is identifiable and that its location and movement from one location to another is traceable throughout its life. You must check that the animal is registered already when acquiring a sheep or a goat – ear tags alone are not enough! You can do this by calling the customer service (in Finnish and Swedish) of the Sheep and Goat Register and providing the EU code FIxxxxx shown on the ear tag of the animal concerned.
Removal and movements of sheep and goats animals shall be reported to the Sheep and Goat Register within 7 days of the event. Notifications of the birth of lambs and kids and the marking of lambs and kids must be made within 90 days of birth or before then if the sheep or goat is moved from its place of birth. The rural business authority in your municipality will provide you with user rights to the application for submitting the required notifications to the register. When the keeping of sheep or goats ends, the reason for the removal of the animals and any method of disposal shall be notified to the Sheep and Goat Register.
The operator shall keep up-to-date, establishment specific records. If the operator notifies the corresponding information to the Sheep and Goat Register within the time limit laid down for register notifications, no separate records need be kept for the reported events.
Information on marking and registration requirements, as well as the legislation behind these requirements, can be found on the Finnish Food Authority website (in Finnish and Swedish).
Sheep and goat tagging and registration guide (in Finnish and Swedish)
Sheep and goat registration forms (in Finnish and Swedish)
4. Read the animal welfare regulations applying to sheep and goats
The keeping, care, treatment and handling of animals are governed by the Animal Welfare Act (247/1996) and the Animal Welfare Decree (396/1996). The requirements of keeping sheep and goats and their holding sites are also regulated by the following government decrees (in Finnish): Government decree on the welfare of sheep (587/2010) and Government decree on the welfare of goats (589/2010)
A summary of legislation applying to the keeping of goats can be found in the"Vuohi – eläinsuojelulainsäädäntöä koottuna" (Goat – animal welfare legislation) guide. A summary of legislation on the keeping of sheep can be found in the ”Lammas -eläinsuojelulainsäädäntöä koottuna” (Sheep - animal welfare legislation) guide.
More information on keeping and the good care of sheep and goats can be found, for example, in ProAgria's publications Lampaankasvattajan käsikirja (Sheep farmer's handbook) and Hyvinvoiva tuotantoeläin (Healthy production animal).
5. Animals from abroad? Remember the import requirements!
Restrictions concerning animal diseases have been laid down for the import of animals in order to protect human health and the health of other animals. In order to meet these requirements, the importer needs to obtain information and to address the issue well ahead of the planned import. Failure to comply with import requirements means the import is illegal. If you suspect that animals are being imported illegally, you must report the matter to the municipal or regional veterinarian. More information on import requirements.
6. Take care of animal health and the prevention of animal diseases
Find out where the nearest municipal veterinarian or a veterinarian treating sheep and goats is located before purchasing the animals. If an animal falls ill, it must receive appropriate treatment.
Animal owners have a key role in the prevention and spread of contagious animal diseases. Any suspicion of a contagious animal disease must be reported to the municipal veterinarian. Up-to-date information on animal diseases and their prevention and control.
In order to prevent the spread of animal diseases, it is prohibited to feed catering waste to food producing animals. Catering waste means food waste from a kitchen, either institutional or domestic, which has been on display when dining and where products of animal and plant origin have thus become mixed. The risk of animal diseases is linked in particular to the use of animal products in the feeding of animals. The suitability of the feed for animal feeding shall be taken into account when feeding sheep and goats. For example, in order to prevent animal diseases, the use of meat and bone meal, and blood meal is prohibited in feeding sheep and goats.
Salmonella can spread through feed, which is why feed hygiene must be ensured, by among other things obtaining feed from registered feed business operators, by regularly cleaning the feeding containers and equipment, by protecting the feed from pests and by keeping the places where the animals are kept clean, in particular by ensuring the removal of manure. More information on the requirements of feed law can be found on the Finnish Food Authority website Feeds (in Finnish and Swedish).
7. Keep a record of the number of animals and the medication given to them
The owner or keeper of production animals shall keep records of the medication given to these animals and of the number of dead animals. Records of the medication shall be kept for at least five years and records of the number of dead animals shall be kept for at least three years from the end of the year in which the animal was last entered in the records.
More information on legislation on the medication of animals can be obtained from the veterinarian treating the animals and from the Food Authority website Medication records of production animals (in Finnish and Swedish).
8. Read the requirements for slaughtering and killing sheep and goats
The killing or slaughtering of an animal shall be carried out as quickly and as painlessly as possible. An animal may only be killed by a person with sufficient knowledge of the killing method and technique suitable for the animal species concerned and with the sufficient skills to perform the procedure.
The method of slaughter for religious reasons is permitted only in slaughterhouses in the presence of an inspection veterinarian. The only such method of slaughter for religious reasons permitted in Finland is where bleeding is started at the same time as the stunning of the animal. Slaughter without stunning is completely prohibited in Finland.
More detailed information on the requirements and permitted methods of killing and slaughtering animals (in Finnish and Swedish).
9. Find out how to dispose of a dead sheep or goat
Sheep and goats are production animals and the disposal of a killed animal or one that has died shall be carried out in compliance with legislation on the disposal of production animals. With regard to disposal, Finland is divided into two parts: a remote area and a collection area. A carcass in the collection area shall be taken to carcass collection. The burial of an entire carcase is permitted in remote areas. Burying the carcass must not pose a risk to human or animal health. More detailed instructions on burying or otherwise disposing of the carcass can be obtained from the municipal veterinarian and the environmental protection authorities.
If a sheep or goat is slaughtered at home, slaughterhouse waste must be disposed of in compliance with the legislation on by-products.
More information in Finnish from Finnish Food Authority’s website.