Why is it measured?

In general sheep, given the choice, will choose to lie in clean dry areas. Dirtiness (faeces/mud) on the fleece can provide optimal conditions for ectoparasites (particularly blow fly), increase the risk of disease and cause issues at or prior to slaughter. Areas of dirt on different regions of the sheep’s body are as a result of different causes and can affect welfare in different ways. Dirtiness around the hind quarter is most likely to be caused by loose faeces which can result from dietary change, parasites, illness or nutritional imbalances. Dirtiness on the belly or legs maybe more linked with environmental issues, such as wet ground, poached areas, stubble grazing, dirty bedding (if sheep housed) and this can lead to thermo-discomfort and an increased risk of lameness and mastitis.

How to assess and score using the AssureWel measure

3. Dirty hindquarter (and belly)                                                                                                                     Flock Measure
Assess the whole flock and tally the number of sheep seen with a dirty hindquarter. If sheep are grazing forage crops on cultivated ground additionally assess the belly and tally the number of sheep observed with a dirty belly.

Visual assessment of one side and behind of the hindquarters and on cultivated ground additionally the belly.

Dirty hindquarter and belly
An area of dirtiness (fresh and old mud or slurry) larger than hand size (10x15cm) and/or diffuse soiling of the whole area.

  1. Lameness
  2. Body Condition Score (Thin sheep)
  3. Dirtiness
  4. Fleece loss
  5. Sheep needing further care
  6. Castration, tail docking and ear notching
  7. Mortality


Making improvements



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