Surplus black & white calves disappear

By Farmers Weekly staff

CHAOS which erupted in markets following the end of the calf processing aid scheme has subsided, but officials are unable to suggest where the surplus of predominately black-and-white calves have gone.

A survey conducted by the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers (RABDF) at this years Dairy Event, Stoneleigh suggested that almost 60% of producers were intending to dispose of “valueless” calves as cheaply as possible.

The responses from 209 producers, representing 26,000 cows, suggested that 11% were undecided over the fate of calves, 13% intended to market them to beef finishers and 14% were rearing their own.

With about 500,000 pure-bred male calves being born annually, the results suggest up to 300,000 calves could face disposal on-farm, raising concern on both welfare and environmental grounds.

The situation could be prolonged as other RABDF results suggest those farmers looking to use a beef sire in future match those turning back to dairy bulls.

While the National Farmers Union wanted a disposal scheme, livestock adviser Carol Lloyd suggests the market has gone some way to find outlets for calves.

As a result, some pressure from members for a disposal scheme had subsided.

The British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) is preparing a study of passport applications for the NFU to identify numbers being registered and their destination, added Ms Lloyd.

BCMS staff cannot say when the report will be released.

“[The report] would be particularly useful, as it may answer many of the unknown facts,” added Philip Gilbert, chief executive of the RABDF.

Some sources suggest up to 50% of calves have been yarded for rearing. That would account for a great proportion not passing through markets or contract schemes.

Other calf handlers have reported an increase in numbers since the end of the CPAS.

Chris Ashworth of the Licensed Animal Slaughterers and Salvage Association said members were busier, but actual numbers were hard to pinpoint.

Members have been canvassed this week to assess the volume being handled.

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