14 May 2001
‘Finish trapped store cattle’ – NBA

By Alistair Driver

CATTLE breeders in foot-and-mouth disease hotspots have been advised to consider finishing or breeding from store cattle that cannot be moved.

The National Beef Association says farms trapped deep within the main infected areas orders are unlikely to be free for a long time.

Farmers currently under Form D orders also face a long wait before they are free of strict movement restrictions, said NBA chairman Robert Robinson.

“It is impossible to give an accurate timetable but it may be that some farms will not be freed until autumn or perhaps not until the end of the year.”

Farmers outside infected areas can move store cattle on to other farms where there are welfare grounds for doing so.

Farmers in infected areas can only move animals to slaughter if abattoirs within the same area are willing to take them, said Mr Robinson.

“It would be better to turn store cattle that cannot be sold into slaughter cattle and use some store heifers to replace the worst of the older cows.”

Farmers could make room for the young heifers for breeding by putting some of their oldest cows into the Welfare Disposal Scheme, he said.

He said affected farmers are already finding it difficult to cope with stocking levels and will have to face up to these difficult options.

The advice follows accusations from another rural organisation that the government has ignored the mounting welfare crisis created by the restrictions.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) says there are still huge welfare problems across the country that are not been dealt with.

In parts of Wales, farmers have not been able to bring sheep back to the mountains from lowland winter grazing because of movement restrictions.

Judith Matthews, the CLAs regional director for north Wales, said the affected farmers had registered with the welfare cull scheme.

But they cannot use it because of a backlog of animals to be entered.

“The stock are starving where they stand,” she said. “One farmer went to feed his animals and found 18 ewes were dead along with nine lambs.”

“The depression and anxiety this is causing is overwhelming farmers, but the government seems to be doing nothing to offer help and advice.”

Across the country, cattle are stuck in barns in the heat and livestock are running out of grass on home pastures.

Meanwhile, other grassland is flourishing but remains empty because of movement restrictions, the CLA says.

There are also concerns that sheep that remain unshorn because of foot-and-mouth will attract flies and parasites as temperatures rise.

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