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Stackyard News Apr 06

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    Too many cull cow casualties wasted

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.

beef cow

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."

link Beef exports will challenge supermarket stranglehold
link NBA urges members to report illegal retail mixing of beef
link UK Beef Exports start date confirmed

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National Beef Association