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.
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
“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
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