The Welsh Assembly has proposed an amendment to rules banning the on-farm burial of fallen stock.

Rural affairs minister Elin Jones said she had received no support from the European Commission for her call for a derogation to allow burial, but she hoped that the amendment, which would allow farmers to practise on-farm containment before disposal of a much-reduced volume of material, would be supported.

The system had been trialled under licence at Bangor University‘s Henfaes Farm using £6000 underground tanks imported from Spain, she said.

Fallen animals from the farm’s flock of 1600 ewes had been placed in the closed tank and had degraded so quickly that little solid material remained for disposal after three months.

Ms Jones said the Welsh proposal met many of the industry’s concerns about the disposal of fallen stock, improved bio-security, allowed faster separation of carcasses from livestock, and created a more sustainable process.

Ed Rees, chairman of NFU Cymru’s livestock board, welcomed the proposed amendment to the EU’s Animal By-products Regulation.

“By allowing the containment of fallen stock on-farm, as successfully trialled in Wales, we see the potential for a more efficient, environmentally friendly and bio-secure method of disposing of fallen stock,” Mr Rees said.

Prossor Williams, who managed the Bangor trial, said it cost 40p a day to operate the tank, and the potential saving over current disposal costs for a 1600-ewe flock was £1300 a year.

He said his final report to the assembly on the trial, which was partly financed by Hybu Cig Cymru (Meat Promotion Wales), had been far better than he had expected.