5 April 1996

No alternative

to slaughter

SHROPSHIRE beef and sheep producer Jesse Woods believes some cows must be slaughtered to regain consumer confidence. He acknowledges that it will mean big losses of animals.

Mr Woods has 538 suckler cows. The farm has never had a case of BSE despite buying in 60 heifer replacements a year.

"Some of these must be from farms that have had BSE," he says. A slaughter policy for cows born before 1989 would mean culling a third of his suckler cows. And Mr Woods hopes that compensation for animals would not be based on average values, for his stock earn £100 above the market average.

GENETIC progress in UK dairy cow breeding over the last three to four years is evident in the heifers entering herds and slaughter of cattle would be devastating, according to Animal Data Centre chairman Bill Madders.

Any animal slaughtered within its useful life is a loss to the genetic pool and farmer profit. But the better genetics are in younger animals.

"We could replace the animals lost but it will be difficult to build up numbers quickly since these large numbers of animals may not be available elsewhere," he says.

"BSE at farm level is declining. In farm terms it has nearly disappeared from the cattle population and will disappear in a short time."

Mr Madders believes cases in animals born after the feed ban occurred due to cross-contamination at mills also supplying pig and poultry diets. The new ban on all animal proteins in farm animal feed should prevent this." &#42

Jessse Woods: "Cows must be slaughtered to regain consumer confidence."