Portmortem Examination Services

Farm Animal Postmortem Examination (PME)

Requesting a postmortem examination (PME)

Please note, the following information is for the general government part-subsidised postmortem examination (PME). Free carcase collection may also be available to those in eligible postcode areas*.

Prior to requesting a postmortem (PME) it is important to ensure this is the most appropriate method of investigation in the particular case.  Your veterinary practice must speak to the duty Veterinary Investigation Officer (VIO) to discuss the PME before submission.  In some cases it may be more suitable to submit samples to a testing laboratory before opting for a PME (check out the APHA sample submission handbook for guidance).  In order for us to decide whether we can accept a carcase or not please be prepared to be able to answer these simple questions.  Farm details, when was the animal last seen alive, vaccinations or treatments given, age of animal, how many animals have died.  A fully completed submission form should be submitted prior to the animal arriving for PME.

Our Farm Animal PMEs may only be accepted if the following criteria apply:

  • Animals dead for more than 48 hours will NOT be accepted.
  • Animals dead for more than 24 hours may not be accepted, autolysis reduces the likelihood of diagnosis.
  • If frozen it is unlikely to be accepted.
  • A maximum of three mammals and five bird carcases can be submitted together from a single disease incident on each farm.
  • Predated carcases may not be accepted.
  • Animals shot may not be accepted if neurological disease is suspected.
  • Clinical history may suggest submission of samples is more suitable (e.g. faecal samples to investigate diarrhoea).
  • Ovine abortion where placenta is not available.

The standard fallen stock disposal fee will be charged for all carcasses, including any received without prior agreement between the veterinary surgeon and the duty VIO.  Postal submissions should be sent to your preferred testing laboratory.

If submitting live animals for PME the decision must take into account the Welfare in Transport Legislation.

Submissions will generally be investigated as part of a contract for surveillance of livestock diseases with the Animal & Plant Health Agency (for more information see the APHA Vet Gateway website).

Farmed livestock that may be suitable for subsidised PME for surveillance include alpacas, cattle, deer, game birds, goats, llamas, pigs, poultry, rabbits, sheep and water buffalo.

The area covered by the Wales Veterinary Science Centre Ltd is detailed within the leaflets produced by APHA below.  APHA has published a postcode finder to help show the surveillance coverage area and transport eligibility*.  Submissions within the coverage area of special interest to APHA may be subject to additional laboratory testing at no extra cost to the submitter.

Farmer Veterinary Surveillance and Diagnostic Leaflet February 2021 (English)

Farmer Veterinary Surveillance and Diagnostic Leaflet February 2021 (Welsh)

Vets – Veterinary Surveillance and Diagnostic Leaflet February 2021 (English)

Vets – Veterinary Surveillance and Diagnostic Leaflet February 2021 (Welsh)


*Free (government funded) carcase collection is available in parts of Wales that are far from the WVSC and other Centres offering surveillance PMEs (APHA Carmarthen, APHA Shrewsbury and Liverpool University). Please go to the APHA postcode finder to check if you are in an eligible area for transport.


Update on the APHA’s scanning surveillance network (07/05/21)

In this focus article, Fin Twomey, head of the APHA’s Surveillance Intelligence Unit, describes how the APHA delivers veterinary scanning surveillance in England and Wales and provides an update on recent changes to the network. Read more in the dedicated focus article in the Veterinary Record which is available here:


* Disposal charges for pigs, goats, deer and camelids available on request

To download a PDF copy of our latest price list for Government subsidised surveillance PMEs, please click here.

For a pdf copy of our laboratory diagnostic testing, please click here.

Cull ewe Health Monitoring Postmortem Examinations

General Information

We offer Cull Ewe health monitoring postmortem examinations for those who wish to investigate the presence of ’iceberg diseases’ and other potential health issues in their flocks (please click here for a pdf info sheet).

Iceberg diseases, as the name suggests, refers to those chronic infections which for every sheep presenting with obvious signs, many more remain undiagnosed in the flock.  Early identification of these diseases is key to ensuring effective control measures can be put in place. The UK sheep industry has identified five significant iceberg diseases which are ovine pulmonary adenocarcinoma (OPA), ovine paratuberculosis or ovine Johne’s disease (OJD), border disease (BD), Maedi Visna (MV), and contagious lymphadenitis (CLA).

There are a variety of diagnostic tests available to identify and monitor disease presence on farm, however just testing clinical cases is not sufficient. By the time clinical cases occur, disease is often widespread throughout the flock. Active surveillance, if done well, can become an early warning system to alert you before a disease becomes established. It is also useful to understand which diseases are not present to help maintain a healthy flock.

In active surveillance, a representative sample of animals are tested for disease. Yet for some diseases there are no reliable tests to make a diagnosis and postmortem examination (PME) is the only option. Whilst clinically ‘healthy’ cull ewes are not eligible for government subsidised diagnostic PMEs, the WVSC now offers the option for Cull Ewe Health Monitoring PMEs.

How does the WVSC scheme work?

The Cull Ewe Health Monitoring PME of up to three sheep will investigate the presence of iceberg diseases and  other common production limiting disease.

Included in the Cull Ewe Health Monitoring PME:

  • Gross examination to look for signs of:
      • OPA, OJD, MV, CLA
      • Production limiting disease (e.g. liver fluke and chronic pneumonia)
      • Public health issues (e.g. tapeworm)
      • Border disease and sheep scab antibody tests (subject to availability and if blood/serum submitted)
  • Smear test (if ovine Johne’s disease if suspected)

The cost of this service is a TC002B as above, for up to three cull sheep (plus disposal).

A report with the results will be sent out to the vet practice by email within 48 working hours after performing the PMEs

*Please note:

  1. Further charges may apply if further testing has been requested or is required to confirm disease e.g. histology and/or bacteriology. Further samples can also be taken on request and tested at extra cost (e.g. trace element testing).
  2. WVSC will invoice the private vet practice for the full costs at the end of the month and payment will be due before the end of the following month.

How to submit cull ewes

  • Submissions must be prearranged with the WVSC by the farm’s private veterinary surgeon.
  • Private vets in practice, please discuss the submission with a vet at the WVSC at least one week prior to submission.
  • A fully completed Farm Animal Submission Form must be completed by the vet in discussion with their farm client to ensure the information is fully provided and correct.
  • Cull ewe postmortem examinations can only currently be carried out on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
  • Euthanasia at WVSC can be arranged in discussion with the WVSC vets.

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