NSA welcomes changes to TSE carcase splitting rules after years of pressure

13th November 2018

NSA has today welcomed the long-awaited news of rule changes for the ageing of sheep for SRM removal, with Ministers today announcing that the existing method of checking for tooth eruption can be changed to an agreed calendar date, and that this date will now be 30 June.  This aligns with other accepted definitions of when a sheep is 12 months of age, namely in the rules for sheep EID.

NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker says: “Finally, in 2019, the UK sheep industry will be able say goodbye to toothing old season lambs as a way of determining age and whether carcasses need to be split. As from 2019 Ministers have agreed that we will move away from tooth eruption to a set calendar date of the 30th June, before which no lambs will need to be checked or spilt, and after which all old season lambs will need to split and with SRM material removed.

“This is a major step forward that follows some four years of intensive data gathering and positioning by NSA and NFU and with the involvement of all relevant industry bodies.  It’s an example of what can be achieved to benefit the industry by organisations working together, and an example too of what can be done through constructive and supportive working between industry and regulators. We estimate that checking for tooth eruption has cost the UK sheep industry some £24 million a year in time and reduced value. It’s an imprecise method that has led to uncertainty and has made it difficult for finishers to plan buying and feeding regimes.” 

NSA is pleased that the industry’s hard work and Defra’s decision means that from 2019 the move to a date cut off will provide real certainty, allow finishers to plan, and should minimise the numbers of lambs needing to be split. 

Mr Stocker continues: “In theory there may be a risk of a final surge of lambs towards the end of June but in practice the industry will have plenty of time to finish lambs and will be aware of the risks of leaving too many too late. In addition, many of the larger abattoirs will make the switch to new season lamb well in advance of this end of June cut-off date. In our final discussions with Defra and FSA we stressed the need for a decision during this autumn so that the industry can make informed decisions over sheep buying and grazing plans and the next steps will now see industry working with Defra, devolved administrations, and FSA to agree the final implementation details.”

NSA will continue to work with Defra on issues, such as this, that affect the sheep industry.