By James Garner

FARMERS are set to lose thousands of pounds this autumn in lost store cattle and suckled calf sales unless the government takes action to avert the impending crisis.

Over three million cattle movements took place from August to October last year, so this is a crucial phase and a decision from vets on which animals can be shifted is needed urgently, says the NFU.

Rough estimates suggest about 800,000 stores and calves are caught on their farm of birth. With forage running short and accommodation becoming tight, fears of another welfare crisis are rising.

“We need to know from DEFRA what animals can be moved,” says Kevin Pearce, NFU livestock adviser.

Gethin Havard, suckled calf producer at Sennybridge in Wales, and chairman of Brecon and Radnor suckled calf rearers, says he is facing big losses.

“I have calculated that if I sell suckled calves to the Livestock Welfare Disposal Scheme, I will lose 10,000.

“And with limited accommodation, no cereals or straw, there are few other options.”

Robert Forster, chief executive of the National Beef Association, believes licensing and transport regulations cant cope with the sheer number of movements needed.

“It is not going to work,” says Mr Forster. “So, if you cant move the animals to the forage, then move the forage to the animals.”

He suggests DEFRA buys two tonnes of hay for every breeding cow or feeding bullock and helps co-ordinate shifting forage to farms.

“The Treasury should be delighted at the saving it could make by paying just 140 for hay, instead of 700 or more to put stock through LWDS.”

Mr Pearce says there will not be one single solution. “Taking feed to the animal will be part of the answer, but it wont help those who cant house stock over winter.”

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