11 September 2001
Dairy calves face mass slaughter

By FWi staff

AROUND 200,000 dairy bull calves will have to be killed on-farm this autumn, a leading farmer has estimated.

Richard Snow, livestock director for farming company Velcourt, has said that tens of thousands of dairy calves will be killed because there is just no market for them.

A report by the Daily Telegraph draws attention to the fact that BSE and foot-and-mouth restrictions have made the animals virtually worthless.

“I never anticipated that during my farming career I would have to authorise the slaughter of perfectly healthy animals at birth,” said Mr Snow.

“Some farmers refuse to take part in this carnage and are rearing calves in the hope of some sanity returning to the beef industry in future.”

Richard Hutchinson Smith, who runs a dairy farm near Shrewsbury, told the paper he could not bring himself to shoot calves so he sold them at a loss for processing.

“People are shooting calves now because by the time they are tagged and transported it is cheaper to kill them at birth.

“Ethically it stinks. We shouldnt be shooting calves and throwing them into a pit,” he said.

A spokesman for Defra said guidance was provided on welfare and legal obligations.

But he added: “This is a commercial decision; a commercial issue.”

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