Cattle farmers should quickly take account of EU meat hygiene
rules that bar diseased or injured animals from the food chain
otherwise too many potentially valuable cull cows will continue
to be lost to the fallen stock scheme and business income be
reduced as a result.
So says the National Beef Association which is alarmed that an
extra 2,000 casualties a week have been diverted from the food
chain since the rule change in January.
"The removal of the OTM regulation means these animals are
too precious to waste. Current, cross-UK, commercial cow abattoir
throughput is in the region of 7,500 head a week and processors
are keen to handle significantly more," explained NBA chief
executive, Robert Forster.
"This strong demand shows in an average of over 135p deadweight
for O3 cows, and say 78-88p kilo for similar beef bred animals
sold in markets, which indicates that a medium sized cow of normal
weight is already making over £420 and is likely to be worth
10-15 per cent more after manufacturing beef exports being to move
from May 3rd."
"All of which indicates that management habits acquired during
the ten year operation of the OTMS, when the surrender price was
pegged at just 87p per dwkg, need to be adjusted."
According to the NBA suckled calf breeders could plan to sell
their cows younger and earlier before they risk a breakdown and
both beef and dairy farmers should measure the cost of a course
of veterinary treatment for lameness or sickness against the improved
value of a recovered cow before calling in the disposal service.
"The current auction average for beef cows is over 80p which
is £200 a head more than the OTMS so it is worth making an
effort to earn this extra income," said Mr Forster.
"Eventually many suckler breeders will run systems in which
cows are sold at 6-8 years old while they still have a high value
but in the meantime culling older cows out a year earlier could
result in more money being available to buy good heifer replacements."
"Demand for manufacturing beef is so strong that slaughterers
are telling us that cows that are ready to be culled should be
picked out and offered for sale immediately and they too are worried
that so many potentially useful animals are being wasted."
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