Clean Livestock Policy for Cattle

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Safety First. Quality Always. Innovating for the Future. 

Beef producers who deliver clean cattle for slaughter are playing their role in the production of  safe food that consumers can have confidence in.

The 3 Category System classifies cattle cleanliness as the following:

Why do we need a policy?

  • Clean livestock presented for slaughter minimise the risk of product contamination, protecting consumer health, promoting consumer confidence in the product.
  • It helps secure Ireland’s and Dawn Meats reputation as a leading exporter of safe, sustainable, quality food.
  • Farmers, hauliers and processors all have a role to play in reducing the risk of food contamination following the transport of livestock.
  • Unsuitable cattle hides presented at slaughter may result in cattle being downgraded or may need online clipping costing farmers money.

Key Messages 

  • Harmful bacteria found on dirty hides such as Clostridium estertheticum and Clostridium gasigenes can be easily transferred to the carcase. These bacteria can easily cause food spoilage costing millions of euro.
  • Sending dirty cattle to slaughter increases the risk of E. coli 0157, Salmonella and Campylobacter contamination putting consumers at risk.
  • Dirty cattle cost money and risk damaging beef and hide international markets.
  • Present dry cattle for slaughter only. 

Pre-transport Management 

  • Do not mix unfamiliar groups of cattle.
  • Long tails should be trimmed at housing time.
  • Avoid overstocking and understocking cattle on slats. Keep straw bedding regularly topped up.
  • Remove low DM feed 48 hours preslaughter and replace with hay, straw or high DM silage.
  • Sheds should be well ventilated keeping cattle clean and dry.
  • Always have clean drinking water available.

Transport Tips 

  • Poor transport conditions may result in clean animals becoming contaminated.
  • Vehicles and trailers should be well ventilated to avoid stock sweating.
  • Ensure vehicle is clean, dry and disinfected between loads.
  • Avoid loading cattle that are very wet or in wet conditions.
  • Where decks are in use, make sure urine/faeces from higher decks do not soil cattle on lower decks.
  • Ensure vehicles comply with relevant road safety laws, stocking densities and permissible road weight limits.
  • For animals transported distances greater than 65 km, use DAFM authorised hauliers only.