What’s acceptable and what’s not under the Clean Livestock Policy?

With the recent wet weather, grazing conditions on some sheep farms will become less favourable. As a result, the number of sheep –  particularly lambs – falling into Category C (unacceptable for slaughter) of the Clean Livestock Policy (CLP) is likely to increase.

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Sending dirty animals to slaughter increases the contamination risk to the meat from harmful bacteria and – as a result – the CLP was introduced in 2016 and fully implemented late last year.

Management at grass

In wet conditions, sheep at grass will be at risk of becoming dirty. As a result, they are likely to receive unacceptable for slaughter (Category C) status and may, in extreme cases, be sent home from the factory.

To help avoid wool contamination, Teagasc advises to move animals to clean pasture when ground conditions become dirty.

In addition, if supplementing at grass, it may be necessary to move feeders regularly to avoid poaching and muddy conditions.

Also, parasites in lambs should be appropriately controlled to reduce scouring.

Indoor management

When sheep are housed indoors, the advice is to avoid overstocking pens and make sure that there is adequate feeding space given at troughs.

In straw-bedded sheds, use adequate straw and replenish it regularly to keep the housing conditions as clean as possible.

Pre-slaughter checks

It may be necessary to crutch or dag dirty sheep before transport to factories as remedial action.

Avoid unnecessary mixing of groups as this can cause increased activity which can lead to dirty fleeces.

Where possible pen sheep on straw bedding or clean slats and withdraw feed, but give access to clean drinking water at all times.


Wool contamination during transport to processing plants can result in an unacceptable (Category C) for slaughter status.

Do not overstock when transporting and ensure the vehicle is clean, dry and disinfected before loading.

It may be worth using absorbent materials on the floor of the vehicle where conditions are unfavourable.