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Stackyard News May 07
       

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    Act Now Before Older Cattle Disposal Scheme Logjam
29/05/07

Suckled calf breeders with cows and stock bulls born before August 1996 must make sure they can put them through the Older Cattle Disposal Scheme (OCDS) before it expires on December 31st next year, the National Beef Association has warned.

Breeders who put an older cow back in calf this summer should realise that they are narrowing their disposal options down to dangerous levels.

cow and calf

If they do not they will have to meet the cost of their disposal themselves and because the combined capacity of the nine UK abattoirs contracted to the OCDS falls short of 6,000 head a week, but an estimated 400,000 pre-August 1996 born cows are registered by BCMS in Great Britain and APHIS in Northern Ireland as still being alive and on-farm, many could have difficulty booking them in at peak disposal times..

“Current OCDS throughput is just over 2,000 head a week and an impossible logjam over the peak culling season this autumn can only be avoided if as many cattle as possible are put through the system from June- September or else aimed specifically at the early months of next year, explained NBA chairman, Duff Burrell.

“Breeders who put an older cow back in calf this summer should realise that they are narrowing their disposal options down to dangerous levels.”

“Such cows will be suckling calves next year and because a huge rush is anticipated again in autumn 2008 when everyone with a pre-August 1996 animal still on their farm will be banging on all doors to get them away before the Scheme expires it would be better to leave these cows barren and put them through this summer instead.”

The NBA and other farmers’ organisations are soon to begin working with the Rural Payments Agency, BCMS/APHIS and Defra to construct a centrally controlled official booking system that should be introduced before the end of summer.

“The aim is for this to be based on ear tag numbers so it is fully transparent, with no cows being block booked or double booked, which will allow the disposal system to operate at full throughput for as many weeks as possible,” said Mr Burrell.

“It will work on a first come first served basis but because there will be heavy pressure on the OCDS this autumn those owners who can get their pre-August 1996 cows away this summer will find life a lot easier if they do so.”

“It is important for everyone that everything possible is done to level out the peaks and troughs in the OCDS system because there is no chance whatsoever of it being extended, even for a second, into 2009 – which means that cows going through in December 2008 really will have been in the last chance saloon,” Mr Burrell added.

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