Keeping farmed animals – guidance

Animal gatherings: licences

How to apply for a licence, when you need a licence, licence conditions and records you must keep.

When you need an animal gatherings licence

If you want to hold an animal gathering, the premises must have an Animal Gatherings Order (AGO) licence from Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

This includes when animals are brought together:

  • to be sold
  • to be sent elsewhere (for example, for slaughter)
  • for show or exhibition
  • to be inspected for breed characteristics (for example, to assess pedigree status)

Species included:

  • cattle (excluding bison and yak)
  • sheep
  • pigs
  • deer
  • goats

It’s an offence to hold an animal gathering without a licence.

When you don’t need a licence

You don’t need a licence to hold an animal gathering if:

  • all the animals brought to the holding are owned by the same person
  • all the animals come from one premises
  • it takes place on premises owned by the animal owner

Get an animal gatherings licence

Complete the following forms:

  • application for a licence to hold an animal gathering
  • disease control contingency plan outlining how you’d respond to a notifiable disease at the event
  • licence implementation plan outlining how the licence conditions will be met
  • site plan outlining the animal area and the extent of the site to be licensed (this is agreed with APHA)

You can get help with the forms from APHA.

Send the completed forms to the regional veterinary lead at your local APHA office.

APHA will arrange a visit to discuss your application and inspect the premises.

The licence is posted to you when the veterinary inspector has countersigned the implementation plan (this forms a binding part of the licence and may involve APHA).

This licence is currently free.

Give notice

At least 14 days before you hold an animal gathering, you must tell your local council:

  • the times when the licensed premises will be open to receive animals
  • the purpose of the animal gathering

Animal gathering licence conditions

You must make sure that:

  • you comply with the conditions in your licence and implementation plan
  • you comply with the disease control contingency plan when dealing with notifiable diseases
  • you take all reasonable steps to prevent the spread of disease during animal gatherings (biosecurity measures) – see biosecurity advice for animal gatherings (PDF, 788KB, 6 pages)

  • you appoint a biosecurity officer to make sure licence conditions are upheld (this can be the licence holder)
  • animals must only enter or leave the animal area on a vehicle (they must only be loaded onto and off vehicles in the animal area)
  • there is a fence around the licensed area to prevent animals escaping
  • you keep records to allow tracing if notifiable disease is suspected
  • you comply with animal welfare rules

How often animal gatherings can take place and for how long

You must make sure that:

  • the time between after the arrival of the first and last animal is no longer than 48 hours (you can ask APHA to extend this period in some circumstances)
  • it’s at least 27 days since the last animal left the premises and all equipment has been cleaned and disinfected

The 27 day rule doesn’t apply if the area is entirely paved with a material that can be effectively cleaned and disinfected. Accepted materials include:

  • cement
  • concrete
  • asphalt
  • other impermeable materials

Records you must keep

You must record:

  • the origin of the animals
  • the destination of the animals (if not available, details about the buyer)
  • details about any vehicles used to transport the animals so that they can be traced
  • names and addresses of all staff working in the animal area
  • whether staff have contact with livestock anywhere else

Records must be up to date and must be kept for 6 months.

You must report the animal movements of:

  • cattle
  • sheep
  • pigs
  • goats
  • deer

Facilities needed at premises

If the licensed animal area is paved, you must make sure that the floor and all fixtures and fittings in animal areas:

  • are in a good state of repair
  • can be cleaned and disinfected after each gathering

There must be a separate area for cleaning and disinfecting vehicles used to transport animals. This area must be suitable for cleaning and disinfecting after each gathering.

If you need to move animals between areas, the areas must be one of the following:

  • adjoining
  • connected by designated walkways

Animal gatherings for slaughter

If you’re holding a gathering for slaughter involving animals that haven’t served standstill on a farm it must be held on a paved animal area. Gatherings for slaughter can’t be held as part of any other type of animal gathering.

Disposal of animal products

All animal by-products must be disposed of, including:

  • feeding stuffs
  • bedding
  • excreta
  • any other contaminants derived from animals

They must be disposed of in one of the following ways:

  • destroyed
  • disposed of so that animals don’t have access to them
  • treated to remove the risk of disease transmission

When the animal gathering is over

When the event is over you must make sure that:

  • all animals leave the site
  • the area is cleaned and disinfected before the next gathering


If you hold an animal gathering without a licence or fail to comply with the licence conditions you can be prosecuted.

You may also have your licence suspended or withdrawn and may have to comply with extra monitoring.