Disposal of fallen stock

The term ‘fallen stock’ is used to describe livestock that dies of natural causes or disease, or is killed on a farm for purposes other than human consumption.

There are strict rules relating to the disposal of fallen stock. Subject to certain exceptions, the burial or burning of fallen stock in the open is prohibited. This prohibition applies also to afterbirth and stillborn animals.

The disposal of fallen stock is governed by the Animal By-Products (Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2013 (the regulations) and EC Regulations (EC) Nos. 1069/2009 and 142/2011.

How can fallen stock be disposed of?

The regulations stipulate that if livestock dies on a farm, it must be ‘collected, identified and transported from the farm as soon as is reasonably practical’.

Fallen stock must not burnt or buried on the farm where it died and it must not be fed to birds that feed on carcases, such as red kites or necrophagous birds.

The farmer must arrange – at their own cost – for the fallen stock to be collected by an approved transporter and taken for disposal to one of the following:

  • Knacker;
  • hunt kennel;
  • maggot farm;
  • incinerator;
  • renderer.

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

Fallen stick can be used a temporarily stored in bins, especially during times of high mortality. The bins must be kept clean and disinfected, and they must have lids and be leakproof.

Farmers can use the National Fallen Stock Company to collect and dispose of fallen stock. This is a not for profit, industry led community interest company offering a collection service for farmers and horse owners. If fallen stock owners want to make their own arrangements for disposal, they should refer to the list of approved/registered animal by-products premises.

Notifiable diseases

Certain diseases are known as ‘notifiable diseases’ and ‘specified diseases’. If an animal is suspected of having died of such a disease it is a legal requirement that this be reported ‘with all practicable speed’ to a police constable based in the police area in which the animal in question is situated. Such diseases should also be reported to the local Animal Health office.

Additional requirements relating to fallen cattle over the age of 48 months

Cattle over the age of 48 months, which have died or been killed on farm other than for human consumption, must be tested for BSE at an approved sampling site before they are disposed of.

Exceptions to the ban on the burial or burning of fallen stock in the open

The exceptions to the ban on the burial or burning of fallen stock in the open are as follows:

  • in the Scilly Isles and Lundy Island;
  • in areas where access is difficult, for example if an animal cannot be reached. In such circumstances it is advisable to contact the local authority;
  • during outbreaks of notifiable disease.

The burial of dead pet animals is allowed. The definition of ‘pet animal’ in EU Regulation (EC) No 1069/2009 is: ‘any animal belonging to species normally nourished and kept but not consumed, by humans for purposes other than farming’. Normal farm species such as sheep, cattle, pigs, goats and poultry fall can never legally be regarded as pets and must be disposed of by an approved route other than burial.

The burial of horses is allowed but on the correct procedure should be sought from the Environment Agency or the local authority before this is carried out. 


Failure to comply with the requirements is an offence against the Animal By-Products (Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2013. The maximum penalty is a fine and two years’ imprisonment.

Article written by...
Lucy Trevelyan LLB
Lucy Trevelyan LLB

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Lucy graduated in law from the University of Greenwich, and is also an NCTJ trained journalist. A legal writer and editor with over 20 years' experience writing about the law.