Fallen stock guidance

This page provides useful information and guidance in relation to fallen stock and its safe disposal in the form of questions and answers.

General ABP

Who is responsible for the disposal of fallen stock?

Farmers are responsible for the disposal of their fallen stock. The livestock industry has a great deal to gain from maintaining public confidence in its ability to dispose of its waste in a safe and sustainable manner.

How quickly must fallen stock be disposed of and what are the storage requirements prior to collection?

As with all animal by-products, Article 21 of the EU Control Regulation requires fallen stock to be collected, identified and transported without ‘undue delay’. Undue delay is not defined in the EU Control Regulation but is taken to mean as soon as reasonably practicable taking account of individual circumstances for example the availability of a collection service, the storage temperature of the fallen stock (for example carcasses stored at ambient temperatures should be disposed of more quickly that those kept chilled or frozen) and any extenuating circumstances such as poor weather or ill-health.

However, in relation to bovine carcasses over 48 months of age, you need to contact the operator of an approved TSE Sampling Site within 24 hours of the animal’s death to make arrangements to have the animal collected and disposed of for the purpose of TSE testing.  Further details are available from our Fallen Stock Safe Disposal leaflet.

Although the Government expects farmers to make every effort they can to comply with the EU Control Regulation, it will take a pragmatic approach particularly in winter and poor weather conditions in upland areas and has advised enforcement agencies accordingly.

Pending consignment the carcass must be stored in such a way that animals and birds (including wild animals and birds) do not have access to it.

Can bins or dolavs be used for temporary storage of carcasses?

Bins and dolavs can be used for the temporary bulking of certain fallen stock especially during times of high mortality, such as the lambing season. They must be:

  • clean, disinfected and intact before they are left on holdings
  • sited so that they are not accessible to livestock and in a place where the collection vehicle has sufficient room to enter the site, collect and exit the site without encroaching on livestock areas
  • leak-proof and lidded.

Are there any record keeping requirements for disposal of fallen stock?

It is important that carcass movements are fully traceable. Article 22 of the EU Control Regulation requires the keeping of records of any carcasses that are sent off-farm for disposal elsewhere. During transport, Article 21 of the EU Control Regulation requires carcasses to be accompanied by a Commercial Document.

How can farmers and horse owners find out about disposal services in their local area?

Local information on the disposal of animal carcasses is available from your local office.

The National Fallen Stock Company Ltd, a not for profit industry-led community interest company offers a collection service for farmers of under 48 month bovines and horse owners. Further information is at: www.nfsco.co.uk.

Does the Government have a statutory obligation to pay for the collection and disposal of fallen stock for the purpose of TSE testing?

No. Although the testing of all fallen cattle aged over 48 months for BSE is required by the EU TSE Regulation 999/2001, the EU Control Regulation does not require Member States to pay for the collection or disposal of these carcasses.

  • there is a derogation for specified remote areas
  • for imported cattle a younger age threshold for BSE testing may apply.

Further information can be found in our BSE testing section.

Why is on-farm burial banned?

The burial ban was introduced in all European Union Member States in 2003. It was done to protect the health of human and animals as well as to safeguard the environment. Improper burial can cause pollution especially to groundwater due to gas and leachate production. This can increase the risk of transmission of disease to man, animals, birds, & insects.

Are there any derogations to the ban on burial or burning?

Article 19(1) of the EU Control Regulation sets out the disposal derogations available to member States. The only exceptions from the ban that are permitted in the UK are:

  • burial of dead pet animals and pet equidae (see questions 10 and 11)
  • burial/burning or disposal by other means for fallen stock where:
  • access is practically impossible or
  • where access would only be possible under circumstances, related to geographical or climatic reasons or due to a natural disaster, which would pose a risk to the health and safety of the personnel carrying out the collection or
  • where access would necessitate the use of disproportionate means of collection.

This is limited to unusual situations such as where an animal has fallen down a ravine or a cliff or has been trapped in a bog and retrieval of the body for disposal by rendering or incineration is not possible.

You must have authorisation from DAERA Veterinary Service before you can avail of this derogation.  Disposal should be carried out in accordance with Article 15 and Annex VI Chapter III of Regulation (EC) 142/2011. Article 17 and Annex VIII Chapter IV Section 6 set out record keeping requirements.

Burial/burning of fallen stock is permitted in areas designated as remote in our domestic legislation. The remote areas in Northern Ireland are Rathlin Island and the Copeland Islands.  Disposal should be carried out in accordance with Article 15 and Annex VI Chapter III of Regulation (EC) 142/2011. Article 17 and Annex VIII Chapter IV Section 6 set out record keeping requirements. More information on the circumstances in which the derogation for on-farm burial and burning can be used is available from our animal by-products governance and legislation section.

Conditions for burial or burning derogations?

Burial and burning of animal by-products must be authorised by the competent authority and done at a site which minimises the risk to animal and public health and the environment. The site must be located within a range of distance sufficient to enable the competent authority to manage the prevention of the risk to animal and public health and the environment. The conditions for burial and burning are set out in Article 19(1) of the EU Control Regulation and in Annex VI, Chapter III, Section 1 of the EU Implementing Regulation.

Is it possible to bury dead pet animals?

Yes. The EU Control Regulation allows member States to apply various derogations regarding the disposal of animal by-products (ABPs) and, amongst others DAERA has applied the derogation to permit the burial of dead pet animals. The definition of a pet animal in the EU Control Regulation is 'any animal belonging to species normally nourished and kept, but not consumed, by humans for purposes other than farming'.  Normal farm species such as sheep, cattle, pigs, goats and poultry fall outside this definition and must be disposed of by an approved route other than burial.

What controls are there on the burial of horses?

The burial of horses is only permitted if they had been kept as pets.
Before burying a horse, advice should be sought on the correct procedure e.g. on deciding the location of the burial site to take account of factors such as livestock access and the potential for leaching into watercourses.  Further advice is available from the Environment Agency website.

What controls are there on the disposal of the carcasses of wild animals?

A wild animal is defined in Article 3 of the EU Control Regulation as ‘any animal not kept by humans’. Whether or not an animal is a wild animal is a question of fact. In most cases it will be obvious (for example, wild birds that have never been owned or controlled are wild animals). However, where there is doubt, some of the considerations to take into account in deciding whether or not something is a wild animal are:

  • has the animal ever been fed by man?
  • has it ever been managed by man, or received veterinary attention from man?
  • has man ever established artificial boundaries that it cannot ordinarily pass?

However, even if some or all of these questions are answered in the affirmative, it is still possible that the animal is, or may have subsequently become a wild animal. This will be a question of fact in each case.

The carcasses or parts of carcasses of wild animals, other than wild game, are exempt from the scope of the EU Control Regulation unless they are suspected of being infected or affected with a disease communicable to humans or animals. Even though the EU Control Regulation places them under no legal obligation, owners of property on which there are dead wild animals are advised to contact their local authority for advice on appropriate disposal methods.

If carcasses of wild animals are suspected of being infected with a communicable disease the landowner must ensure that the carcasses are disposed of in accordance with the EU Control Regulation as category 1 (high risk) ABPs unless in a remote area.

What controls are there on the disposal of the carcasses of wild game?

Under Article 2 of the EU Control Regulation, entire bodies or parts of bodies of wild game which are not collected after killing in accordance with good hunting practice are exempt from the scope of the EU Control Regulation e.g. the internal organs removed from deer after killing (the gralloch) would not be in scope but leaving the excess carcasses of game birds in the open following a shoot would not be good hunting practice and would be in scope and subject to enforcement under the EU Control Regulation. Even if the carcasses are not in scope, environmental controls will still apply. For further information see the Environment Agency website.

Who enforces the legislation on the disposal of animal by-products, including fallen stock?

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

What about fly-tipping?

Where a carcass is dumped on private land, wherever possible the owner of the animal will be identified and held responsible. If ownership cannot be proven, responsibility for disposal rests with the landowner.   The Local Authority has powers to take actions against fly-tipping and appropriate action may subsequently be taken against the owner of the carcass.
Where a carcass is dumped elsewhere, including on public land or highways, and ownership of the carcass cannot be ascertained, responsibility for disposal rests with the local authority.

Incinerators and other means of disposal

Does the EU Control Regulation control carcass incinerators?

Yes. Guidance regarding the use of incinerators to dispose of fallen stock including mobile incinerators and the sharing of incinerators by farming cooperatives can be found on the ABP guidance -Approval and operation of incineration plants.

Can ash from on-farm incinerators be spread to land?

The direct spreading of ash to land is controlled by Environmental Legislation and not the EU Control Regulation.  Ash can also be disposed of at a licensed landfill site.

Are composting and bio-digestion permitted disposal routes?

No. The direct composting or bio-digestion of fallen stock is illegal but with revision of the legislation, Article 20(5)(a) of EU Control Regulation makes it more straightforward to obtain EU approval for alternative measures for the effective containment of fallen stock, such as by using innovative bioreduction systems. Research in this area sponsored by the Welsh Government is progressing well and Defra hope to present a dossier to the European Food Safety Authority for consideration in 2011. If a favorable opinion is obtained the Commission will then be able to make the necessary legislative changes to allow their use as soon as possible thereafter.

What about the feeding of fallen stock to necrophagous birds, such as red kites?

The EU Control Regulation permits Member States to authorise the feeding of Category 1 animal by-products to birds of prey. A derogation to permit the feeding of fallen stock to necrophagous birds is available in some member States, for example as part of approved conservation measures for vultures. This derogation is not available in the UK.

Can afterbirth and/or stillborn animals be buried?

No. The routine on-farm burial and burning of afterbirth and stillborn animals etc is not permitted. However the derogation permitting the burial of pet animals (see 10) would also apply to afterbirth material and stillborn animals from a pet animal.

What about disposal of animal by-products that arise on farm as a result of surgical intervention?

The UK exercises the derogation in Article 16(h) of EU Control Regulation to permit disposal of animal by-products (except high risk category 1) that arise on-farm from surgical intervention on healthy animals (e.g. amputations, castrations and the like) these may be buried in according with good practice on burial.

Hunt kennels

Are hunt kennels permitted to collect fallen stock under the EU Animal By-Products Regulation?

Yes. The EU Control Regulation permits hunt kennels to collect fallen stock and they must be registered as final users/collection centres.

However bovine carcasses over 48 months of age should not be taken to Hunt Kennels as the animal is required to be TSE sampled at one of the approved sites.

In what circumstances can the derogation for on-farm burial and burning be used?

Examples of when it might be justified to use this derogation are where:

  • Government or local authorities are taking action to deal with a natural disaster such as snow, flooding or fire and have made official announcements about alternative disposal arrangements which could be permitted for disposal of fallen stock in the designated area;
  • the carcase is in a place inaccessible to a vehicle but could be reached on foot for disposal by burial or burning; or The carcase is inaccessible to a person to reach by vehicle normally equipped for collecting fallen stock or on foot without the aid of additional equipment and is not a risk from spreading a serious transmissible disease.

On all occasions when this derogation is used and the animals are burned or buried on site or disposed of by other means:

  • use of the derogation must be capable of being justified to inspectors
  • full records must be kept of the number, location and type of carcasses and the date of burial or other means of disposal. The records must be made available to inspectors on request.

Meeting the requirement for official supervision

The degree of official supervision required to prevent the transmission of risks to public and animal health will vary from case to case. In most circumstances the requirement for official supervision will be met by inspectors who can assess the justification for the use of this derogation and examine the disposal records whenever they carry out a farm visit.

If advice is required on the protection of public or animal health or health and safety matters, please contact, in the first instance, your Local DAERA Direct Office.

BSE sampling of fallen cattle aged over 48 months

There is a requirement for all carcasses of fallen cattle aged over 48 months to be sent to an approved BSE sampling site. If carcasses are unrecoverable, this must be reported immediately to your Local DAERA Direct Office.

NB:

  • there is a derogation for specified remote areas
  • for imported cattle a younger age threshold for BSE testing may apply.  24 months for Romanian Imports  

Other circumstances include:

  • the disposal by burning or burial on site of carcasses, other than those from animals in which a TSE such as BSE or Scrapie is suspected, during outbreaks of notifiable disease if there is a lack of capacity at rendering plants and incinerators or if the transport of carcasses would risk spreading disease  
  • burning or burial on site of bees and apiculture by-products, under conditions which do not endanger animal or public health or the environment

Conditions for burial and burning derogations

The burial of animal by-products may be carried out:

  • on the premises on which the animal by-products originate in such a way that they prevent the transmission of risks to public and animal health
  • in an authorised landfill
  • at a site which minimises the risk to animal or public health and the environment and close enough to the place of origin of the animal by-products to permit safe transport and has been authorised for that purpose, e.g. a pet cemetery

The burial of animal by-products must be carried out in such a way that:

  • carnivorous or omnivorous animals cannot gain access to them
  • the burial does not endanger human health or the environment

Further advice on good practice when burying carcasses is available on the Environment Agency website.

The burning of animal by-products must be carried out in such a way to ensure that they are burnt:

  • on a properly constructed pyre and the animal by-products reduced to ash
  • without endangering human health
  • without using processes or methods which could harm the environment, in particular when they could result in risks to water, air, soil and plants and animals or through noise or odours
  • under conditions which ensure that any resulting ash is disposed of by burial in an authorised landfill.

If the animal by-products are moved from the place of origin to the place of disposal, it must be carried out in such a way that:

  • the animal by-products are transported in secure, leak-proof containers or vehicles
  • the unloading and loading is supervised by the competent authority if appropriate e.g. during a disease outbreak
  • the vehicle wheels are disinfected on leaving the site of origin
  • containers and vehicles used for transporting the animal by-products are thoroughly cleansed and disinfected after unloading the animal by-products
  • adequate escorts, leak testing and double covering are provided if appropriate e.g. during a disease outbreak
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