Tail docking is done for cleanliness and to reduce the risk of flystrike. If you tail dock your sheep, make sure you know about the new requirements. The new regulations, which came in on 9 May 2021, stipulate that lambs under the age of six months can be docked by a competent person using either a hot iron or rubber ring. No other methods of tail docking are permitted. Failure to comply can mean a fine of up to $1,500.
There is also a new requirement that the length of the docked tail must be no shorter than the end of the caudal fold – the fold of skin that runs from the underside of the tail to either side of the anus.
This brings New Zealand’s regulations into line with those of our major trading partners, which require the docked tail to entirely cover the vulva in ewe lambs and an equivalent length in males. Failure to comply can mean an infringement fee of $500, with fines on conviction for repeat offences of up to $1,500 for an individual and $7,500 for a body corporate. Tail length will be assessed at the slaughter plant.
Docking the tail of a lamb older than six months is a veterinary-only procedure.
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