Beef and dairy herds across the country must plan the culling of any cattle born before August 1996 carefully in the coming month if they are to avoid losing out altogether on valuable Older Cattle Disposal Scheme (OCDS) compensation, warns EBLEX Ltd, the industry body for beef and lamb levy-payers in England.
The scheme, which closes entirely at the end of December, currently pays around £230/head for cattle which are too old to enter the food chain under BSE rules. After this all such animals will have to be disposed of as fallen stock at the farmer’s own expense, which could be around £150/head. This means a net cost of nearly £400/head from delaying the culling of older cattle beyond the end of the year.
Incineration capacity has been increased by 1500 animals/week ahead of an anticipated surge in demand in the last four months of the scheme. This should ensure the scheme is able to cope with all the 155,000-plus cattle born before August 1996 estimated to remain on British farms. But it will only be able to do so if these cattle are scheduled into the available daily slaughtering slots with licensed abattoirs carefully over the rest of the year.
Recognising the particular problems any last minute rush to utilise the scheme just ahead of its final closure would cause, the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has a set a deadline of September 30 for booking-in all animals to be slaughtered under OCDS from October 1 to December 31.
Under these circumstances, EBLEX advises every producer to:
- Check their latest BCMS statement list of OCDS animals against current stock to identify any cows born before August 1996 remaining on-farm;
- Make a list of all such animals and plan the best time to cull them;
- Book-in these animals directly through their local OCDS abattoir or collection centre by ear tag number as far in advance of their planned culling time as possible; and,
- Ensure any animals to be disposed-of in the final quarter of the scheme are booked-in by the end of September to avoid disappointment.
Producers have everything to gain and little to lose from the early OCDS booking of all animals they wish to put through the scheme. The RPA has undertaken to treat all genuine reasons for being unable to present animals on the allocated day with sympathy, getting abattoirs to place these stock on a reserve list to be accommodated at the earliest opportunity.
Everyone is reminded that it is an offence to send cattle born before August 1996 to an abattoir which slaughters cattle for the human food chain, and urged to contact the RPA helpline on 0118 968 7333 for further guidance on any aspect of the Older Cattle Disposal Scheme.
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