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Animal health and welfare

The advice sheets below have the latest information on animal health and welfare. If you need more advice call 01753 475111 (Regulatory Services option).

Cleansing and disinfection of vehicles


In the guide

Learn more about how the cleansing and disinfection of vehicles used to carry livestock reduces the risk of disease transmission

This guidance is for England

Under the Transport of Animals (Cleansing and Disinfection) (England) (No. 3) Order 2003, every vehicle used to carry cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, deer, racing pigeons and poultry* must be cleansed and disinfected before being loaded. Vehicles used to transport horses must be cleansed but only need to be disinfected where necessary.

[*Poultry means: domestic fowls, turkeys, geese, ducks, guinea-fowls, quails, pigeons, pheasants, partridge and ratites (if reared or kept in captivity for breeding, the production of meat or eggs for consumption, or for restocking supplies of game).]

Vehicles must also, as soon as reasonably practicable, be cleansed and disinfected with an approved disinfectant after unloading and before being used again, and in any case no later than 24 hours after the journey is completed (except in limited circumstances).

Level of cleansing & disinfection

All cleansing and disinfection of vehicles must be carried out so as to reduce the transmission of disease so far as is reasonably practicable.

Method of cleansing

All the inside surfaces of the means of transport in which the animals are transported and have had access to during the journey must be cleansed with clean water, steam or (when appropriate) chemicals until free of dirt.

The process must remove:

  • any feeding stuff to which the animals have had access
  • bedding
  • excreta and other material of animal origin
  • mud and other contaminants

Wheels, mudguards and wheel arches must receive particular attention.

Detachable fittings and any other equiptment that have become soiled during loading, transport and unloading must also be cleansed.

Disinfection after cleansing

After cleansing has been completed, anything that needs to be disinfected must be. An 'approved disinfectant' must be used.

An approved disinfectant is one that is approved for use within the EU for certain specified diseases under the Diseases of Animals Approved Disinfectants (England) Order 2007. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) holds a current list of approved disinfectants and their approved dilution rates and more information on disinfectant approval is available on the GOV.UK website.

Disposal of material after cleansing

All material removed from vehicles after cleansing has been carried out must go through one of the following processes (except where other legislation applies):

  • destroyed
  • treated to remove the risk of transmission of disease
  • disposed of so that animals have no access to it

This includes feeding stuffs to which animals have had access, litter, excreta, other materials of animal origin and other contaminants removed from the means of transport.

Means of transport leaving a slaughterhouse or sale premises (markets)

If a vehicle:

  • has been used to transport stock to a slaughterhouse or sale premises (market)

... and

  • is to leave empty without being cleansed and disinfected (other than as part of a shuttle journey)

... the driver must, before leaving the premises, give a written declaration to the occupier of the slaughterhouse / market, stating where the cleansing and disinfection shall take place and give the declaration to the market or slaughterhouse operator.

A model declaration is available on the GOV.UK website.

Exceptions to the Regulations

The following circumstances allow for slightly less stringent cleansing and disinfection:

  • journeys made within a single farming enterprise in one ownership
  • if you use your vehicle exclusively on a single day, for the carriage of the above animals between the same two points (other than two sales premises), there is no need to cleanse and disinfect between each load; however, it must be cleansed and disinfected before the first journey of the day and after the last
  • the transport of animals to livestock shows from the premises of origin and return, as long as the means of transport does not leave the show before the return journey and only the same animals are transported to and from the show
  • the unloading of animals solely to be fed, watered or for some other temporary purpose and then reloaded during a journey
  • transport of horses. Horses must only be loaded on to a means of transport that has been cleansed and, where necessary, disinfected. It is necesary to disinfect the vehicle, in addition to cleansing, when a means of transport, last used to transport a horse(s), is to be used to transport cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, deer, racing pigeons or poultry


Failure to comply with trading standards law can lead to enforcement action and to sanctions, which may include a fine and/or imprisonment. For more information please see 'Trading standards: powers, enforcement & penalties'.

Key legislation

Last reviewed / updated: July 2019

Please 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 legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab.

Related pages