Sheep farmers: Be mindful of the Clean Livestock Policy

Over the past week, ground conditions have deteriorated, with heavy downpours of rain leading to paddocks becoming poached and also causing some sheep to become dirty.

This is particularly the case with outdoor store finishing systems and those grazing fodder crops.

This, in turn, has left sheep in danger of not meeting the Clean Livestock Policy regulations that were implemented in 2016 by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

While it is understood that no factories have implemented clipping charges, one factory in particular, has noted that “vets are becoming active about dirty sheep”.

Clean Livestock Policy

The Clean Livestock Policy (CLP) for sheep was introduced in 2016 and it’s a three-category system. Under the policy, sheep are classified as being satisfactory (Category A), acceptable (Category B) or unacceptable (Category C).

It was introduced to “significantly improve performance in relation to the cleanliness of incoming sheep” to Department of Agriculture approved slaughter plants.

Category A:

  • These are sheep with a clean and dry fleece that can be slaughtered, with an unacceptable risk of contaminating the meat during the slaughter process, by using the standard hygienic dressing procedure routinely employed by the plant.

Category B:

  • Sheep in this category are classified as having a moderate soiling of fleece that can only be slaughtered, without an acceptable risk of contamination of the meat during the slaughter process, by putting in place additional interventions. This includes extra defined dressing controls.

Category C:

  • These are sheep with a heavily-contaminated fleece unfit for slaughter. These sheep must not be presented for ante-mortem in this condition and it is the responsibility of the FBO ( food business operator) to take the required remedial action.

What can farmers do?

To help reduce the risk of sheep falling into the latter category – Category C – the department offers farmers the following advice:

  • Tail dock lambs in the first seven days of life;
  • Implement a control programme to reduce scouring;
  • Move finishing lambs to clean pasture when conditions become muddy;
  • In straw-bedded sheds, use adequate straw and replenish regularly;
  • Poor transport conditions may result in animals becoming contaminated and failing to achieve required cleanliness specification. Vehicles should be roofed (where possible) and well ventilated;
  • Ensure the vehicle is clean; dry; and disinfected before loading;
  • Only clean sheep should be sent to the slaughter plant.

In the gallery below, more examples are of Category A, B and C sheep are displayed.

Click on a thumbnail in the gallery to open up a full-size image; once opened you can scroll sideways to see the next picture.