Animal health and licensing

Animal health and licensing

Blue Tongue

1.    Background

A case of Bluetongue (BTV) was confirmed in a single cow on a farm in Kent on 11 November 2023 and a temporary control zone (TCZ) implemented. The animal was not symptomatic, and the case was detected through surveillance sampling. There is currently no evidence that BTV is circulating in Great Britain. Surveillance is ongoing.

2.    What is Bluetongue?

•    Bluetongue is a notifiable disease and suspicion must be reported to APHA.
•    It is a viral disease, which affects ruminants (such as sheep, cattle, goats and deer) and camelids (llamas and alpacas). It does not affect horses or pigs.
•    Symptoms vary across ruminants, but include fever, lesions, redness of the mouth, eyes, nose, reddening of the skin above the hoof, excessive salivation and nasal discharge. Some animals may show few or no clinical signs. 
•    BTV is mainly spread by adult-infected midges biting an animal susceptible to the disease. This is classed as ‘vector-borne’ transmission.
•    Infected midges can spread locally and more widely in certain temperatures and wind conditions.
•    There is currently no approved vaccine available for BTV3 in Europe.

It does not affect people or food safety, but outbreaks can result in prolonged animal movement and trade restrictions.

If you suspect bluetongue you must report it immediately by calling:

03000 200 301 if you’re in England Bluetongue is a notifiable disease. If you do not report it, you’re breaking the law. For further information go to

Avian Flu

The risk of avian influenza for all poultry has reduced to low (meaning the event is rare but does occur) and the avian influenza prevention zones (AIPZ) for poultry and captive birds in EnglandWales and Scotland have been lifted from midday on 4 July 2023.

Whilst the risk level in kept birds has reduced, the risk in wild birds remains high and all bird keepers should continue to take steps to prevent bird flu and stop it spreading at all times and be vigilant for signs of disease.

All poultry gatherings, including at fairs, shows and markets, remain banned, due to a large number of flocks mixing together and the risk posed by any infections spreading across the country.

Additional mandatory restrictions apply in disease control zones in force surrounding infected premises where avian influenza has been confirmed in poultry or other captive birds. Check if you’re in a zone on the bird flu disease control zone map and follow the rules for that zone.

Keepers should familiarise themselves with the avian flu advice and report suspicion of disease to APHA on 03000 200 301.

Poultry includes for example chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, pigeon (bred for meat), partridge, quail, guinea fowl and pheasants.

Captive birds are any birds kept in captivity, other than poultry, and includes for example – pet birds, birds kept for shows, races, exhibitions, competitions, breeding or sale.

All bird keepers (whether you have pet birds, commercial flocks or just a few birds in a backyard flock) must keep a close watch on them for signs of disease and maintain good biosecurity at all times. If you have any concerns about the health of your birds, seek prompt advice from your vet.

You should register your poultry, even if only kept as pets, so we can contact you during an outbreak. This is a legal requirement if you have 50 or more birds. Poultry includes chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese, pigeon (bred for meat), partridge, quail, guinea fowl and pheasants.

For further information go to

Importation of Dogs, Cats & Ferrets

To see the latest importation advice from Government on the legislation that is applicable to the importation of certain animals go to Updated guidance on the isolation requirements (pdf 91kb) is available. 

Importing animals and animal products

Specific guidelines about the trade of animals and animal products have been produced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Traders must follow detailed guidelines for products of animal origin in addition to the general checks at the point of entry into the UK. 

Newcastle City Council is responsible for policing and monitoring animals entering the country using either Newcastle International Airport or the River Tyne, within the controlled district of Newcastle City Council.

Animal Health Officers monitor this very closely as part of the measures in place to prevent such diseases as rabies from entering the country. Our duties also extend to any other animal, particularly those on the Dangerous Wild Animals list or a protected species. We are given full support and co-operation by officers from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the United Kingdom Borders Force (UKBF), as well as Northumbria Police.

Health inspections of farmed animals

Our Animal Health Inspectors carry out a disease risk assessment of all livestock farms in Newcastle upon Tyne. During a scheduled visit to a farm the Animal Health Inspector will check all Livestock related documentation, such as;

  • Flock and herd records of all movements on and off the premise
  • Veterinary medicine records, animal by-products disposal route
  • Stock on the holding will also be checked on welfare grounds and to ascertain whether or not they comply with current tagging/identity legislation

Keeping poultry on a domestic property

Keeping a few hens in the back garden to provide year- round eggs is becoming more and more popular. There are no laws preventing you keeping hens, providing they are looked after properly and their welfare is taken seriously. However, it is advisable to check your property deeds or consult your landlord to make sure there are no covenants preventing the keeping of livestock. By law you must register with DEFRA if you are responsible for fifty or more birds. It is also advisable to also register all flocks of birds under 50.

Buying a cat or dog

Animal lovers should take care when buying a new pet. Do not buy a cat or dog from an unknown source and be careful when buying animals advertised on the internet or in a newspaper. Illegally imported dogs and cats may carry diseases such as rabies and advertising may mislead you on details about the animal's history, breed or pedigree. DEFRA have produced guidance for the basic checks you should carry out when buying a cat or dog.

Abandonment and fly-grazing

Most abandonment and fly-grazing cases are a civil matters. If  you think the animal may be in distress you can report it to the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999. If you believe an animal has been abandoned or is fly-grazing  on land managed by the Council, please contact us on 0191 278 7878.

Animal licences

Animal movement licences

All animal movements are controlled by a general licence. In addition to the general licence, in respect of the movement of deer must be accompanied by a completed AML1 form. Movement must be reported to Local Authorities using the form AML1 within 3 days of the movement taking place. Forms need to be completed in triplicate. One copy is to be retained by the owner of the animals, two copies to the person buying the animals, one of which should be forwarded to the authority.

Dangerous and wild animals

Anyone who keeps an animal that is prescribed as dangerous and or wild must hold a licence to do so. There are currently no such licences issued by the City Council. 

Keeping or training animals for exhibition

Anyone who keeps or trains animals for the purposes of exhibition must hold a licence to do so.

Feed hygiene

The Feed (Hygiene and Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2005 requires all businesses that make, use or market animal feeds (including farms, but excluding pet food retailers) to register with the council. Find out more about feed hygiene registration.

Dog breeding

Anyone runs a business that breeds and sells dogs, or have a dog that has more than 3 litters in a year and sell the puppies, you need a licence to breed dogs.

Animal boarding

Anyone keeps dogs or cats overnight as part of a business, you may need an animal boarding licence

Selling Pets

Anyone who sells animals as pets needs a pet shop licence, even if they don't work out of an actual shop. 

Hire of horses

Anyone who hires out horses, such as riding establishments, needs a licence to do so.

Zoo licences

Anyone who keeps wild animals for exhibition other than a circus or pet shop must apply for a zoo licence


Fees that are applicable for licences issued by the Council.


To access a copy go to High Standard (pdf 1.7 mb).  


Trading Standards service, Directorate of City Operations, Neighbourhoods and Regulatory Services, City of Newcastle upon Tyne, Civic Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8QH. Email:


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