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. All cattle that die or are slaughtered on-farm or in transit (other than for human consumption), and were over 48 months old at the time of death, and were born in a European Union (EU) member state (except Bulgaria and Romania), are required to be tested for BSE.

The same conditions apply to cattle aged over 24 months at the time of death if they were born in Romania, Bulgaria or any non-EU country.

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 under 48 months (or 24 months if appropriate). Cattle under 48 months of age 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 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 haulier

The keeper must also notify the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) of all cattle deaths within seven days by one of the following methods:

  • using the BCMS interactive website known as CTS
  • using the BCMS automated telephony service
  • using software approved by BCMS
  • by 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

On 1 March 2013 in Great Britain, the requirement to test healthy cattle slaughtered in an abattoir for human consumption for BSE ended. This applies to all cattle born in an EU member state (except Bulgaria and Romania).

However, the following cattle must still be tested for BSE:

  • fallen cattle as outlined earlier
  • healthy cattle aged over 30 months slaughtered for human consumption that were born in Romania, Bulgaria and all non-EU countries
  • cattle sent for emergency slaughter and cattle that are identified as sick at ante-mortem inspection (aged over 48 months old if born in the EU except Romania and Bulgaria; aged over 24 months if born outside the EU or in Romania or Bulgaria)

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.

A person found guilty of an offence is liable to a fine and two years' imprisonment.

Key legislation

Last reviewed / updated: June 2016

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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