Asda has become the first supermarket to raise the age limit for beef cattle going into its standard beef range to 36 months old.

The increase, from the previous 30-month limit, comes into effect immediately and means the cut-off age for Asda’s standard beef is back to pre-1996 levels, agricultural development manager Pearce Hughes said.

“This industry-leading move will provide Asda BeefLink farmers with the option to revert back to the much-missed 36-month production system and should make the rearing of dairy bull calves into large steers a viable and attractive option once again, reducing the number of dairy calves being disposed of at birth,” he said.

Asda’s decision follows the recent Food Standards Agency announcement to increase BSE testing of cattle to 48 months. The supermarket, together with its supply chain partner Anglo Beef Processors, hopes to increase the upper threshold to 48 months after further quality trials.