The NFU is advising producers to enter any pre-1996 cattle into the Older Cattle Disposal Scheme as soon as possible or face having to pay for their removal as fallen stock once the scheme finishes.
The union recently met with DEFRA and the RPA to discuss the issue of pre-1996 cattle and the winding up of the scheme, which is due to finish on December 31 2008.
Once the scheme finishes, any pre-1996 animals will have to be removed as fallen stock and paid for by the farmer.
Discussions are due to take place in the next few months on the introduction of a booking system which will be in place by this autumn and will continue until the end of the scheme.
It is important that producers are aware of the timescales involved with the OCDS.
Decisions will need to be made ahead of this autumn’s calving season to make sure any pre-1996 are not put back in calf as there is a risk they could still have a calf at foot or be in calf as the scheme finishes.
To help producers identify any pre-1996 animals recorded as being in their herds, the British Cattle Movement Service will highlight them on the forthcoming statement and cross checks should then be done to establish if the cattle are still in the herd.
If the cattle are dead or no longer on the holding they should be reported to the British Cattle Movement Service.
There are several stock bulls in the national herd which were born before 1996 and these also need to be taken into account.
If necessary, semen should be taken off these animals and stored before the bulls enter the scheme.
There are nine OCDS plants throughout the UK. These plants have a capacity of 24,000 animals a month.
Currently they are running at approximately 8,000 animals a month.