Cattle farmers should by now have received a new edition of the Cattle Keeper’s Handbook. This replaces all previous leaflets received from BCMS and overrides previous editions. Confusing? Undoubtedly. Important? Unquestionably.
In response to recommendations made by the Madders Report, a series of changes has been implemented, due to come into force on 6 April. The principal change is the removal of the temporary calf passport and this will affect all keepers in the UK, explains head of BCMS operations, Adrian Pryor.
Calves must have a full passport before they can move off their holding of birth and can no longer be moved using the current cattle passport application form. Redesigned forms, which no longer contain a movements section, will be issued from 6 April when keepers apply for ear tags.
“The problems experienced by BCMS and keepers purchasing calves when there is incorrect or missing information suggested a need for change. We have also had problems when it has been too close to the 27-day deadline,” he says.
BCMS does not envisage problems issuing passports in time for movements to occur. “Complete and valid applications are processed quickly. Furthermore, problems with the application can more easily be sorted out by the breeder than the purchaser. In emergency cases, keepers can apply for a movement licence on welfare grounds,” says Mr Pryor.
Farmers can continue to use old-style applications after 5 April, but are not permitted to report calf movements on these forms. “If keepers use the old form to move calves before 6 April, and then a passport is applied for, movements will be accepted as long as the application is made within 27 days of birth,” explains Mr Pryor.
Keepers are encouraged to make use of CTS Online, the BCMS web service, to get a more rapid turnaround. “When producers register a new birth or movement, the system will automatically check the information entered, resulting in fewer mistakes and, ultimately, faster passport production. It also saves paperwork, postage costs, time and effort,” adds Mr Pryor.
Richard Jones of Mole Valley considers the change to be positive in so much as it will make managing calf collecting centres a simpler, more calf friendly operation. “Calves will be older and stronger by the time they are moved, making them better equipped to move to rearing units.”
Additionally, those producers who have been refused passports now have the chance to DNA-test both calf and dam to gain a passport. However, the decision as to whether a passport is issued still depends on other factors. “We have to evaluate how late the application was, if the date of birth is known and if the whole application is sound,” says Mr Pryor.