THE going rate for dairy calves in Scotland on Monday was £1 apiece leading to concern over on-farm disposal of valueless stock.
Paisley-based auctioneer Robbie Wilson says the very best calves in an entry of 40 made £4 but £1 was the general price.
“Some of the calves had come from the island of Bute and the transport cost would have been £5 or £6 a head.
“That cant go on and farmers will simply dispose of the animals at home. I never thought Id see the day when farm stock would be worthless,” says Mr Wilson.
It was the same story at Lanark, with 30 forward and the auctioneers guaranteeing to get rid of any unsold ones to the local knacker yard.
“Two animals failed to make a bid and £1 was the going rate for most of the others,” says auctioneer Tom Struthers.
Scottish NFU president Jim Walker says there are welfare and environmental implications of huge numbers of dairy cattle being slaughtered on farms which could become a reality if low prices persist.
This view is supported by Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) chief executive Jim Morris, who says he had been dreading the end of the calf processing scheme.
English markets are equally depressed. Many auctioneers maintain low values will persist for weeks to come.
The knock-on effect of valueless calves may encourage more disposal of carcasses on-farm if bobby calf traders are overwhelmed with supplies.
The NFU is still investigating a calf disposal scheme proposal which would be likely to exclude any payment to producers, but guard against welfare and environmental concerns over on-farm disposal.