31 July 1998

New calf welfare rules in this week

NEW legislation, introduced this week, means calves reared in hutches can no longer be tethered.

Months of NFU lobbying has failed to secure changes to the EU calf welfare directive to allow an exemption from the no-tether ruling for animals on running leads in hutches.

The only exception is in group-housed animals where tethering, for an hour at most, is acceptable during feeding. Adapting the countrys 12,000 hutches, to provide fenced runs, is likely to cost the industry about £0.5m, according to MAFF estimates.

The NFU had argued that hutches significantly reduced the risks of disease transfer between young, newly weaned animals. It accepted that short tethers used in veal systems on the Continent should be outlawed, but maintained that the longer leads, up to 2m (6.6ft), used in hutches should continue.