Clean animal call from processors to producers

Beef and sheep producers have been reminded to ensure livestock is clean before being sent to slaughter to prevent the spread of disease. 

As outlined in the Food Standard Agency’s ‘Clean Livestock Policy’, abattoirs are forbidden from accepting dirty animals. Furthermore, the livestock producer could face damage to their financial returns should they not sufficiently clean their animals beforehand. 

Pathogens such as E.coli and salmonella could be present dirty animals which, according to the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), could cause potentially food-borne illnesses in humans if it is transferred onto sterile carcase meat.

“Dirty stock can seriously impact the financial return to beef and lamb producers, as well as the impact of human health,” said Steve Powdrill, AHDB technical manager. “If dirt is transferred on to the carcase, the contaminated meat is trimmed away which reduces the carcase weight and therefore the price paid.

“Most processors also deduct a charge for the additional work handling overly dirty livestock. With this in mind, it’s really important that food producers present clean animals, not only to ensure that they get the best possible returns, but to ensure the food produced is safe to eat.”

Michael Winchester, senior livestock manager and at Woodhead Brothers said that he uses the Clean Livestock Policy scoring system which allows the business to score the cattle on a scale of one to five at the time of unloading. One represents a clean animal, with five the opposite. “Any cattle scoring three to five cannot proceed to slaughter without further action being taken,” explained Winchester.

“In most cases, cattle will not be clipped that day or left alive and slaughtered the following day. The cost of clipping is then charged back to producers.”

Whilst AHDB recognises that keeping animals clean during the winter months can be challenging, the levy board’s Beef & Lamb division offers producers with advice in presenting clean animals via its Inspiring Success strategy – designed to help producers increase the number of beef and lamb animals meeting market requirements. 

Want more stories like this in your inbox?

Sign up for our FREE email newsletter


My Account


Most read


For the third year running, a grain fed cow won the World Steak Challenge. What do you think produces the best beef?