Welfare slaughter scheme called for in light of movement restrictions

Urgent talks should be held to consider the prospect of implementing a welfare slaughter scheme to ease overstocking problems on farms, says North of England farmer Will Cockbain.

Mr Cockbain who is NFU hill farming spokesman told FARMERS WEEKLY there was a real and urgent need for talks to begin over the implementation of a properly resourced welfare slaughter scheme.

“We don’t want to have to face the prospect of slaughtering perfectly healthy stock, but if they can’t be moved for further finishing or breeding there may be little other option.”

There will be millions of animals unable to move at the moment and holding them up for many more weeks will cause untold problems for those farms.

“But this shouldn’t be a half hearted effort, it needs the full support of government otherwise it simply won’t help anyone.”

“Additionally, as soon as it is possible the country should be split into regions for animal movements to allow stock to move from farm to farm in those areas where there have been no cases of foot-and-mouth.”

Meanwhile, Mr Cockbain faces the prospect of keeping more than 800 sheep for a good deal longer than he planned, with movement restrictions preventing the sale of draft hill ewes and store lambs. “We were due to sell these in early October and the chances of doing that are extremely limited now.

“Alongside these sheep, we’ve also still got 40 store cattle which were entered for a sale in early August and which were supposed to be going to sale tomorrow (14 September). So, we’ve already kept them a month longer than we should have and it looks like we’ve got them for another month now.

“It’s difficult to put a cost on these delays, but its certainly shaping up to be an expensive autumn. The main issue will be a lack of grass as growth falls away into October and then there’s a 20% or greater increase in the cost of purchased feeds.”

If we’re prevented from getting these stock away from the farm for another three or four weeks it’s going to be a disaster and there will be a domino effect of disaster right down the chain, he added.