Staging posts aim to help fallen stock collections

Disposing of fallen stock caused problems for many farmers last year, as some collectors employed by the National Fallen Stock Company failed to cope with demand over lambing.

But, according to NFSCo chairman Michael Seals, those problems should be history as collectors have worked hard to avoid a repeat of the scenario of dead animals lying on farm for weeks.

“We are fully aware of the problems faced in certain parts of the country last year, however, we believe a series of measures being implemented this year should help overcome these difficulties.

“Most of the problems in north Wales last year were caused by logistics.

There simply wasn’t the ability to cope with demand, largely due to the distances operators had to travel to collect stock and the nature of the road network in the area.”

This year Mr Seals says NFSCo is hoping to have at least one collection depot open in the area to enable animals to be made up into bulk loads.

“This will reduce the amount of time taken to collect animals and allow farmers to deliver animals to collection depots themselves.”

Eifion Evans, NFSCo’s Welsh director, is confident a staging post which meets animal bi-product regulations will open before the end of February.

Although unwilling to give more details until arrangements were agreed and sealed, he predicts the intermediate collection centre, and measures taken by the area’s principle collector, would cut collection times.

Cluttons, the collection company, has also stopped collecting OTMS cattle and improved the way they plan farm visits.

With lambing already under way the average waiting time is currently 1.4 days, compared with several weeks in 2005.

Anglesey farmer Perdur Hughes, a strong critic of the way the scheme worked last year, believes things have improved greatly.

“It is terrific news that an intermediate site will be operating in time for the busiest lambing period.”

Meanwhile, some other collectors are trialling bulk bins to allow farmers to store larger numbers of fallen stock safely and securely before collection, explains Mr Seals.

“These won’t be suitable for every farm but, for sheep farmers with larger flocks, they could be extremely useful at lambing when larger losses typically occur.”

Elsewhere, it is a lack of collectors which is causing the problems, admits Mr Seals.

“This is a particular problem for farmers in the south east and east of England, but there is little we can do about this.

These are areas of low stock density, so there is less demand and hence fewer collectors.

DEFRA have been advised of the problem, but we have to leave it to them to suggest a solution.”

At present farmers in these areas are faced with higher costs than those in more densely stocked areas, something Mr Seals wants to see evened out.

“We need to find a way of equalising the charges across the country, but it is a supply and demand market.”

Farmers having fallen stock collected are reminded to follow basic biosecurity measures, including ensuring fallen stock are stored securely before collection and away from livestock.

“They should also ensure collectors are complying with the biosecurity requirements of NFSCo and where not ask them to. When necessary report any breaches to NFSCo’s helpline.”