Dennehy said analysis showed that more than 900 lambs per day, or between 7% and 9% of the kill, are being classified as Category C and ordered home or back to farm by the Department. He said this approach cannot continue as it is imposing major unnecessary costs on farmers, it is not provided for under EU regulations, and seriously disrupting the normal sale of sheep.
According to the IFA, in the week ending February 10th, the Department sent home up to 3,600 lambs that were deemed as category C. In the previous week, the Department rejected another 3,500 lambs, ordering that they be sent back.
Dennehy said there is “rising frustration” among sheep farmers at the way they are being treated under the Clean Sheep Policy. “Sheep farmers will do their best to have their animals as clean as possible but the Department and the factories have to be practical and take account of the difficult weather conditions.
“There needs to be a realisation that this is a very low income enterprise and not capable of sustaining excessive red tape and bureaucracy such as over the top regulations on the likes of clean sheep and EID tagging.”
The Livestock and Meat Commission for Northern Ireland has also reminded beef and sheep producers of the importance of presenting clean livestock for slaughter in local abattoirs. “While avoiding dirty livestock can be difficult due to winter weather conditions producers are encouraged to ensure animals are dry and as clean as possible.
“Sheep cleanliness is particularly affected by diet, housing, sheep health, weather conditions and soil type during grazing. Adverse weather and poor ground conditions lead to animals becoming dirty and it may be necessary to house animals for a period before slaughter to clean and dry them. Producers should liaise directly with the procurement staff of the individual plants before presenting cattle and/or sheep for slaughter.”