Rules for farmers and land managers

What you must do when you keep livestock or manage land.

Applies to England

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There are legal requirements in English law around certain farming activities to protect people, livestock and the environment. Government agencies and local authorities inspect farms and land to make sure you follow the rules. This page does not contain all the rules but can help you find the ones that apply to you.

Keep livestock

What you must do to keep livestock and protect the public from cattle.

Register to keep poultry

Keeping cattle, bison and buffalo in England and Wales

Protect the public from cattle kept on land

Keeping sheep and goats in England

Keeping pigs in England

Keeping deer in England: tagging, movement and record keeping rules

Protect animal health and welfare

What you must know about animal welfare, food safety, disease and use of medicines.

Protect animal welfare on farm and in transport

Produce safe-to-eat food for humans or animals

Report notifiable diseases in animals

Bovine TB: get your cattle tested in England

Responsible use of animal medicines on the farm

Keeping horses

Keeping horses commercially

Protect the environment if you keep livestock

What you must do to avoid pollution from animals, manure and silage.

Pigs and poultry intensive farming: environmental permits

Make sure animal activities do not damage soil

Store organic manures in nitrate vulnerable zones

Store slurry, silage and agricultural fuel oil safely

Fallen stock and safe disposal of dead animals

Manage land that you own or occupy

What you must do to protect your land and manage public access.

Manage farming and horticultural activities to prevent soil erosion and water pollution

Public rights of way: landowner responsibilities

Open access land: management, rights and responsibilities

Coastal margin: management, rights and responsibilities

Sites of special scientific interest: manage sites you own or occupy

Heather and grass burning: rules and when you need a licence

Change or improve rural land: check if you need to apply for an Environmental Impact Assessment

Use pest control products

What you must do when you buy, move, use or store pesticides.

Register as a professional user of plant protection products

Use, transport or store pesticides safely

Code of practice for using plant protection products: what you legally have to do

Apply products to your land

When you can spread fertiliser, manure or waste on your land and the restrictions that apply if you burn crop residues.

Plan your use of fertiliser or manure to reduce water pollution

Nitrate vulnerable zones: rules when you use fertilisers or store manure

Use sewage sludge on your land

Waste exemption: spread waste to benefit your land

Burning crop residues: restrictions and rules for farmers and land managers

Produce plant varieties and seeds

What you must know about plant breeders’ rights, getting seeds certified, licences, farm saved seed and selling seed potatoes.

Plant breeders rights: national listing of plant varieties, seed certification and farm saved seed

Protect landscape features

What you must know before you start work on hedges or sites that are legally protected because of their historical importance.

Hedgerows: find out if you can remove or carry out work

Get permission before you work on scheduled monuments

Manage trees and woodland

What you must know about planting, felling and keeping trees healthy.

Tree planting and woodland creation: overview

Tree felling overview

Tree pests and diseases

Plan woodland projects: check if you need to apply for an Environmental Impact Assessment

Manage water

What you can do around watercourses and what permissions you need.

Maintain watercourses and understand permissions you need to work around them

Check if you need a licence to abstract water

Manage and dispose of waste

What you must do with hazardous waste, such as chemical containers and sheep dip.

Manage waste on land: guidance for land managers

Discharges to surface water and groundwater: environmental permits

Sheep dip: groundwater protection code

Make compost, biogas, fertiliser or animal feed

What you must do when working with materials that come from animals but are not for human consumption.

Guidance for the animal by-products industry

Get advice

Get advice from Defra or the Farming Advice Service.

Published 27 March 2023
Last updated 1 January 2024 + show all updates
  1. Removed cross compliance requirements for England. Cross compliance no longer applies in England from 1 January 2024.

  2. Updated the introduction to clarify the legal status of the rules in England. And that farms are inspected by government agencies and local authorities. Updated keeping deer in England link title to match the destination page title. Removed import, export or distribute animals and food section. This content is covered in the farming and land management topic.

  3. Changed link for woodland creation and fixed broken link for advice.

  4. Added new sheep and goats, pigs and deer links. Removed Register land you use to keep livestock, Register livestock to get a flock or herd mark and Get a temporary land association (TLA) or temporary county parish holding (CPH) number because these are on livestock collection pages. Added descriptions under headings. Changed sentence to make it clearer it doesn't cover all rules.

  5. Added link for Register livestock to get a flock or herd mark because it is a new page explaining the rules.

  6. Changed pigs and poultry intensive farming environmental permits link. Removed organic farming link. Added sheep dip groundwater protection link.

  7. First published.