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Off-Wintering of Sheep

Option closed to new applications


This Option provides support for sheep to be removed from upland sites in winter to in-bye land on the same holding.

What this will achieve

This will help to regenerate suppressed heather or other moorland vegetation of conservation interest by reducing the impact of sheep in winter when they are most likely to be damaging. In winter, sheep are most likely to browse heather once grasses have stopped growing for the winter and to cause poaching when the soil is saturated. Off-wintering will protect upland species and habitats and their soils.

What you can do


  • You must remove an agreed number of ewes or hoggs from the moorland to in-bye land on the same holding for at least 22 weeks during the winter.
  • You must prepare a Moorland Management Plan and carry it out. The Plan should describe the current condition of the moorland and how it is managed. It must say how many ewes you will remove from the site in winter, and explain how the removal of these animals will improve the condition of the moorland. It should consider other management Options and explain why off wintering is the best Option for your site. This should take account of the combined impacts of livestock and other grazing animals.
  • If signs of negative impacts on the habitats are detected, you must review the plan with SNH or Scottish Ministers and agree any changes necessary to meet the targets.
  • Each year you must submit an annual record of management that includes details of the numbers and timings of stock off wintered.

Who can apply

All land managers are eligible to apply for this Option.

Eligibility criteria

This Option is available where it will benefit upland, moorland or peatland sites.

Land receiving payments for similar management under other agri-environment schemes is not eligible under this Option.

Please see Definitions of Land Types page for more detail.

Rate of support

This is a 5-year commitment. We will pay you £9 per hectare per year. We will pay in the Spring of the following year. For the purposes of payment, it is assumed that each ewe disposed of will benefit 0.8 hectares of moorland. Please see AR Payments On-line Guidance for information about when claims should be submitted.

What costs could be supported

For a comprehensive list of Capital Items click here. Any cost claimed must be fully justified. The following are examples of what may be claimed for:

Fencing, gates and fence removal - as appropriate

When completing your Proposal, you can select the appropriate capital item(s) from the dropdown list of standard cost capital items for this Option.

In addition to the above capital items, financial support of up to 100% of eligible actual costs is available in respect of the following:

Please note that these capital items will not appear in the dropdown list of Standard Cost capital items for this Option and will need to be entered manually in the box for Actual Cost capital items. Only costs for the types of capital works listed above should be entered in the Actual Cost capital items box for this Option. Any other costs entered cannot be considered for funding.

To ensure value for money we require you to provide 2 competitive quotes for any capital items applied for which are based on actual cost. If, however, you are seeking grant support towards something so specialised it is only available through 1 source then we would accept 1 quote. Please see the guidance on quotes and estimates for more information.


The inspector will check the requirements (as detailed above under 'what you can do') of the Option are being met, by a visual assessment on the day of inspection.

Beneficiaries must comply with the requirements of cross compliance and the minimum requirements for fertiliser and plant protection products. You must also comply with the requirements to avoid damaging any features of historic or archaeological interest, and follow Scottish Ministers' guidance for the protection of such areas or features (detailed in links below).

The following is a brief overview of the inspection procedures; for a full explanation please see links below:

Inspectors will check:

  • Compliance with agreed Moorland Management Plan.
  • Agreed number of ewes and/or hoggs have been moved from moorland to in-bye on same holding for at least 22 weeks during winter (shorter periods may be agreed).
  • Changes to the Plan have been agreed with Scottish Ministers or SNH.
  • Claimed capital items have been completed to approved amounts and scheme standards.

List of links to relevant technical guidance