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Stackyard News Aug 08

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OCDS Costs Ambush for Fallen Cattle

The owners of cows and bulls that miss moving through the Older Cattle Disposal Scheme (OCDS) before it ends on December 31st are almost certain to be hit by new collection and disposal costs for fallen cattle that are expected to be hoisted on the industry early next year.

This warning comes from the National Beef Association which says UK agriculture ministers are already examining whether or not to confirm a proposal that the cost of collecting and disposing of fallen bovines will be passed from government to industry on January 12th 2009.

It also advises that when the 24 month age limit on brain testing is progressively raised, which may begin sometime next year, collectors and disposers will be paying much more attention to younger, more commercially attractive, fallen stock – while those born before August 1996 will be considered even more of a nuisance than they are at the moment and could become more difficult, and more costly, for owners to pass on.

“No one is arguing against the right of owners with cows born before August 1996 to calculate whether or not they will breed more calves and keep them beyond December 31st if the cost/income arithmetic stacks up,” explained NBA director, Kim Haywood.

“However if agriculture ministers agree that the costs associated with fallen cattle are handed on to owners there could only be ten working days, between January 1st and January 12th 2009, when pre-August 1996 animals held over from the OCDS can be disposed of without cost.”

“At the end of June around 37,000 older cows and bulls had passed through the OCDS which is 37 per cent less than the corresponding period last year and unless pre-August 1996 born cows and bulls are booked into the OCDS by September 30th there is no guarantee that they will be allocated a slaughter slot before the Scheme is dismantled overnight at the year end.”

“It is the NBA’s view that pre-August 1996 born cattle will never have any commercial value and because handling them will become extremely unattractive to commercial operators in cost-benefit terms they will quickly become more expensive to dispose of because everyone will want to avoid the cost and inconvenience of managing a two tiered stream, pre-August 1996 born and post-July 1996 born, processing system.”

“The NBA’s feeling is that owners who keep pre-August 1996 born cows after the OCDS ends will find it much more difficult then they currently expect to find a collector.”

“And that the collector could charge them a comparative fortune to cover the cost of a long haul to a disposer who in turn faces nothing but additional cost for breaking down the carcase,” Ms Haywood added.

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