Farmer Focus Livestock:William Slinger is in buying mode

This time of the year is when we are busy buying in breeding gimmer lambs and replacement tups.

Generally, these replacements are bought within a few weeks of each other. As it happens this also coincides with our busiest time of the year for selling stock. Currently, we might expect to sell a number of newly calved heifers, bull calves, cull cows, a pen or two of draft ewes and a trailer load of fat lambs.

None of this was a problem before we had to contend with the standstill regulations introduced following the Foot and Mouth outbreak of 2001. Of course it is entirely right to take proper measures to prevent the spread of disease where practicable.

While we have to buy in replacement stock, we don’t want to hamper our weekly stock sales. This was not a problem when we were able to bring in new stock and place them in a DEFRA-approved “isolation unit” – that is, a parcel of land set apart from the main holding and allocated its own holding number where they can be accommodated without coming into contact with stock already on the holding.

The problem came when it was decided male, but not female, breeding stock could be brought to the isolation unit without triggering a standstill for our off-farm sales. Do you know any reason why a gimmer lamb is a greater disease management risk than a tup?

Recognising that one isn’t likely to do much breeding without the other, barring a miracle, I telephoned Trading Standards to confirm this was still their position. The lady did confirm male breeding stock is exempt, but female breeding stock is not. She also agreed a miracle was unlikely. It is madness!

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