Sheep Vegetation Management Guidelines

2.0 Planning

2.1 General planning procedures

The Ministry of Forests and major forest licencees are responsible for the management of forest areas. Sheep vegetation management proposals are referred to MELP for review and comment. A decision to use sheep for vegetation management includes the following steps:

2.1.1 Preparing a Silviculture Prescription

A Silviculture Prescription must state whether livestock is proposed for vegetation management or for site preparation. (Refer to relevant parts of the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act and the Silviculture Practices Regulation.)

2.1.2 Determining the requirements for sheep vegetation management

Vegetation management is the control of vegetation that could compete with and hinder the establishment and growth of crop seedlings. Should the site forester decide that vegetation management is required, he or she will determine what the best treatment would be and its objective.

At this time, the suitability of the site, for vegetation management using sheep, should be assessed according to various acceptability factors (Appendix 1 and Appendix 2). As well, other districts, licencees and contractors who have had experience with sheep vegetation management should be consulted.

If sheep vegetation management is felt to be a viable option and the technique is stated in the Silviculture Prescription, the method is then investigated thoroughly.

Proponents are expected to submit the locations and site evaluations of proposed areas to MELP for review. Allow 3 to 12 months for the review. This gives MELP's Wildlife and Habitat staff and independent biological and agroforestry consultants (as required), adequate time to assess the suitability of the areas for this type of vegetation management. The designated MELP official, in each region, should be consulted to determine the time required for review.


2.1.3 Site evaluation

During the site evaluation, the acceptability of the site is evaluated, conditions at critical times of the year are noted, and risks are identified. A written report of the evaluation is circulated to and discussed among the affected ministries and proponent.

In the site evaluation, consideration is given to those factors which may make the site acceptable or unacceptable (Appendix 1 and Appendix 2). Potential domestic sheep impacts on wildlife and wildlife habitat should be documented.

2.2 Project planning

Once the review has been completed and the project approved, several tasks should be completed before sheep vegetation management occurs.

2.2.1 Sheep Health Protocol

The MAF has developed requirements for the health management and inspection of sheep used for vegetation management. These requirements, known as the Sheep Health Protocol (Appendix 3), apply to all sheep regardless of source.

  • Following project approval, proponents planning to use sheep for vegetation management must notify MAF's Health Management Veterinarian. The telephone number is 1-800-661-9903 or 1-604-556-3003.
  • Proponents should keep in mind that sheep producers may require up to 1 year to adequately plan and prepare flocks according to the Sheep Health Protocol. Any queries about inspection procedures should be directed to MAF's Health Management Veterinarian.

Compliance with sheep health inspections and certification requirements

  • Proponents and contractors are responsible for ensuring that all the health and certification requirements laid out in the Sheep Health Protocol are met (Appendix 3).

2.2.2 Authorization for sheep vegetation management on crown land

Authorization for sheep vegetation management is granted through the Silviculture Prescription.

Silviculture Prescription

  • A silviculture prescription is a site-specific operational plan that describes the forest management objectives for an area. Statement of the use of livestock for vegetation management or site preparation purposes under the silviculture prescription authorizes treatment using this method without the requirement for a range permit. Sheep vegetation management treatments are subject to the requirements within the Silviculture Practices Regulation. For additional information refer to the Silviculture Prescription Guidebook and applicable sections of the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act.

2.2.3 Pre-project requirements

Once the sheep vegetation management contract is signed, the proponent must notify MELP and MAF of the project start date, location, contact name and phone number, at least 45 days before the sheep arrive.

Sheep health and welfare

Before the contract starts, contractors should make arrangements for:

Sheep and wildlife interaction

  • The local Conservation Officer Service (Appendix 4) must be notified approximately 45 days prior to project start date so that officers can avoid relocating problem carnivores into areas adjacent to project sites.
  • It is recommended that an approved alternative grazing site be selected before the contract start date. The alternative site should be located at least one watershed distance away. If carnivore interaction develops or persists, MELP and the proponent, in consultation with the contractor, may decide to vacate the site and relocate the sheep to the alternative site

Forage assessment

  • The sheep contractor and forestry contract administrator should view and evaluate the site within one week of the contract start date (April/May) to ensure that adequate forage is available.
  • The sheep contractor may take appropriate forage samples and have them nutritionally analyzed to provide reference assessments for forage quality.

Noxious Weeds

  • It is the responsibility of the proponent to choose sites and management practices that limit the spread of noxious weeds (Refer to Section 52 of the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act). For additional information refer to Integrated Weed Management – An Introductory Manual. 1998. Province of British Columbia, Ministry of Agriculture and Foods. This publication can be accessed on MAF’s website at:


  • Supplementary feed sources should be arranged before the start of the contract so that it is readily available if needed.
  • Contractors must ensure that supplemental feed is free from noxious weeds

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