Animal Health & Welfare

BSE testing of cattle

In the guide

This guidance is for Wales

Livestock keepers must be aware of the sampling requirements for the purposes of monitoring BSE in cattle.

Subject to exceptions based on age and country of birth, all cattle that die or are slaughtered on-farm or in transit (other than for human consumption) are required to be tested for BSE. 

Farmers are obliged to contact an approved collector within 24 hours of death to arrange delivery of the carcase to an approved sampling site within a further 48 hours. Cattle deaths must be recorded in the movement register within seven days and the cattle passports completed with the animals' death details and returned to the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS), also within seven days.

Background

Livestock keepers must be aware of the sampling requirements for the purposes of monitoring bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle. Cattle keepers must ensure that those cattle requiring BSE testing are disposed of to an approved BSE sampling site.

Cattle keepers are responsible for the correct disposal of cattle aged under 48 months (or 24 months if appropriate) at time of death. They do not require BSE testing and the carcases must be sent to any approved animal by-products premises (for example, knacker's yard or via the National Fallen Stock Company (NFSCo) in accordance with animal by-products legislation (see 'Disposal of animal by-products').

BSE testing requirements & responsibilities

All cattle that die or are slaughtered on farm (other than for human consumption) or in transit must be tested for BSE if they are:

  • over 48 months of age
  • over 24 months of age if born in Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia or any non-EU country

These carcases are the responsibility of the cattle keeper who must contact a collector within 24 hours of death to arrange delivery of the carcase to an approved BSE sampling site within a further 48 hours or contact the BSE sampling site with 24 hours of death and deliver the carcase themselves within a further 48 hours.

Cattle keepers do not need to contact the TSE surveillance helpline. They must contact their normal collector or the NFSCo on 01335 320014. Government support is available via NFSCo.

Record keeping

All deaths on holdings must be recorded in the movement register within seven days of the death, together with the:

  • date the carcase was removed
  • description of the carcase, including the ear tag number
  • destination
  • name of the haulier

The keeper must also notify BCMS of all cattle deaths within seven days by one of the following methods:

  • CTS Online (Cattle Tracing System)
  • CTS Web Services from some farm software packages
  • CTS self-service phone line (0345 011 1212 or 0345 011 1213 for Welsh language)
  • completing the death details in the animal's passport and/or registration certificates and returning it to BCMS

The only exception to this is where a beast is slaughtered outside a slaughterhouse but is sent to a slaughterhouse for dressing. In these cases, the keeper must complete the death details in the passport and send it with the carcase to the slaughterhouse. The occupier of the slaughterhouse must then notify BCMS of the death of the animal and return the passport with seven days of death.

An animal by-product commercial document must also be completed and retained (see 'Disposal of animal by-products').

Age limits

Most healthy cattle slaughtered in an abattoir for human consumption do not need to be BSE tested. However, the following cattle must still be tested for BSE:

  • fallen cattle (see 'BSE testing requirements & responsibilities' above)
  • healthy cattle aged over 30 months, slaughtered for human consumption, that were born in Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia and all non-EU countries
  • cattle sent for emergency slaughter and cattle that are identified as sick at ante-mortem inspection if appropriate (aged over 48 months if born in EU except Bulgaria, Romania or Croatia; aged over 24 months if born outside EU or in Bulgaria, Romania or Croatia)

Penalties

Failure to contact a collector to arrange BSE testing within 24 hours is an offence under the Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (Wales) Regulations 2008.

Cattle born before August 1996 are not permitted to be slaughtered for human consumption and to send them to an abattoir is an offence under the above Regulations.

The maximum penalty is a fine and two years' imprisonment.

Key legislation

Last reviewed / updated: November 2017

PixelPlease note

This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.

The guide's 'Key legislation' links may only show the original version of the legislation, although some amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Information on amendments to UK legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab; amendments to EU legislation are usually incorporated into the text.

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