SAFETY FIRST. QUALITY ALWAYS. INNOVATING FOR THE FUTURE.
Sheep producers supply animals for slaughter for human consumption. Therefore, as food producers, they have an important role to play in presenting clean sheep for slaughter.
The 5 Category System classifies sheep cleanliness as the following:
category 1 - clean & dry
category 2 - slightly dirty
category 3 - dirty
category 4 - very dirty
category 5 - filthy & wet
Did you know?
- Farmers, hauliers and processors all have a role to play in reducing the risk of food contamination following the transport of livestock.
- Good hygiene during sheep transport is important to food safety. Cleanliness of the transport vehicle is important to avoid cross-contamination from previous loads and/or from chemical cleaning agents.
- Unsuitable conditions during transport may result in lambs being downgraded in the factory to a lower cleanliness category and costing the farmer money.
- Harmful bacteria such as E. coli 0157, Salmonella and Campylobacter can live in sheep faecal matter. If contamination goes unnoticed it can cause severe, even fatal disease in humans.
- Ensuring sheep are clean & dry at slaughter minimises the potential risk to human health, contributes to the safe production of meat, and improves the shelf life of the product.
- Harmful bacteria on the fleece can be easily transferred to the carcase.
- Harmful bacteria can spread from dirty bedding.
- Harmful bacteria can survive and spread in a dirty environment.
- Keep sheep dry and clean at housing and transport.
- Liaise with processor about delivery times to avoid unnecessary long times for sheep in transport vehicles.
- Harmful bacteria found on dirty fleeces such as Clostridium estertheticum and Clostridium gasigenes can be easily transferred to the carcase. These bacteria can easily cause food spoilage costing millions of pounds.
Top tips for finishing lambs
- Sheep fleece cleanliness is notably affected by diet, housing, flock health and weather conditions.
- Grass finished lambs are generally the cleanest, however wet weather and muddy fields can lead to dirty fleeces.
- Plan appropriate parasite controls. Take care to comply with Anthelmintic withdrawal periods to avoid scouring and dirty back ends.
- Provide hay adlib when sheep are grazing on lush grass during prolonged wet weather.
- Avoid sudden changes to diet. Changes should be gradual to avoid scouring.
- House on straw bedding /clean slats 24hrs prior to slaughter. Clean fresh water should be readily available.
- Crutch/dag dirty lambs prior to transport. Sheep should ideally by clean and dry.
- Poor transport conditions may result in clean animals becoming contaminated. Vehicles should be well ventilated and roofed where possible.
- Ensure vehicle is clean, dry and disinfected before loaded. Avoid unnecessary mixing of groups.
- Use absorbent materials on the floor such as straw, shavings or saw dust.
- Where decks are in use, make sure urine/faeces from higher decks do not soil sheep on lower decks.
- Ensure vehicles comply with relevant road safety laws, permissible weight limits & stocking densities.