Keeping farmed animals – guidance

Fallen stock and safe disposal of dead animals

How to safely and legally dispose of dead farm animals and horses.

If you are a farmer, you are responsible for the safe and legal collection disposal of your fallen stock (dead livestock).

You can make your own arrangements for your fallen stock to be disposed of at an approved premises, or you can use the National Fallen Stock Company (NFSCo).

Fallen stock

If livestock dies on your farm, it must be collected, identified and transported from your farm as soon as is reasonably practical.

You must not burn or bury fallen stock on your farm, and you must not feed fallen stock to red kites or necrophagous birds (birds that feed on carcases).

You must arrange for the animal to collected by an approved transporter and taken for disposal to one of the following:

  • knacker
  • hunt kennel
  • maggot farm
  • incinerator
  • renderer

This also applies to stillborn animals and afterbirth.

While waiting for your fallen stock to be collected, you must ensure that animals and birds can’t access the carcase.

Bins can be used a temporary store for fallen stock, especially during times of high mortality. The bins must be kept clean and disinfected, and they must have lids and be leakproof.

You can choose to use the National Fallen Stock Company to collect and dispose of your fallen stock. This is a not for profit, industry led community interest company offering a collection service for farmers and horse owners. See the NFSCo website or call the NFSCo Helpline on 01335 320014.

If you want to make your own arrangements, you should refer to the list of approved/registered animal by-products premises.

You are responsible for covering the costs of collection and disposal.

Animal by-products

Animal by-products (ABPs) must be transported in covered leak-proof containers / vehicles and be accompanied by a commercial document.

See the guidance on the disposal of ABPs.

Incinerator plants that only burn animal carcasses or unprocessed parts of carasses must be approved by the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

See the guidance on incineration sites and Defra's controls on animal carcase incineration plants (PDF, 570KB, 47 pages) .

BSE testing of fallen cattle

If your cattle is to be tested for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), you must contact a collector within 24 hours of the death of the animal to arrange for the animal to be taken to an approved sampling site within 72 hours of the death.

If BSE testing is not required then the carcase may be disposed of as fallen stock.

For further information, see the guidance on BSE.

Ban on burying or burning fallen stock

The burial or burning of fallen stock in the open is banned to prevent the risk of spreading disease from residues in the soil, groundwater or air pollution.

This ban includes afterbirth and stillborn animals.

In the UK, the exemptions to this ban include:

  • the burial of dead pet animals and horses (authorisation C2)
  • remote areas – Isles of Scilly, Lundy Island (authorisation C3)
  • natural disaster (authorisation C4)

Burning and burial of ABPs must be authorised by the competent authority and carried out in line with the ABP regulations.

Pet animals

You are allowed to bury pet animals.

A pet animal is defined in the regulations as “any animal belonging to a species normally nourished and kept, but not consumed, by humans for purposes other than farming”.

This does not apply to farm animals such as sheep, cows, pigs, goats and poultry.

Farm animals must be disposed of using an approved disposal method for fallen stock.

Horses

In Scotland and Wales, only pet horses can be buried.

In England, you are allowed to bury horses whether they are pets or not.

For further information, contact your local trading standards office and the Environment Agency.

You can also use NFSCo to collect your horse.

Wild animals

The carcasses of wild animals, other than wild game, are exempt from the EU regulations.

However, if it is suspected that the animals were infected with a disease which can spread to people or animals, they must be disposed of as a category 1 ABP.

Fly-tipping

If a carcase is dumped on your land then, wherever possible, the owner of the animal will be responsible for its disposal.

If the owner cannot be identified then you will be expected to arrange for the disposal of the animal using an approved disposal method.