Monday, December 11, 2023
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HomeBeefCall for testing exemption for calves to be continued post-Covid
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Call for testing exemption for calves to be continued post-Covid

ICOS has requested a permanent change by DAFM to allow calves up to 120 days of age to be freely traded without the necessity for TB testing.

The group made the call at yesterday’s (Monday, April 19th), meeting of the calf welfare group.

The DAFM has revised its protocol for TB testing during the Covid-19 pandemic:

  • Calves between 42 and 120 days of age should be TB tested only where both the farmer and the vet are satisfied that social distancing can be adhered to;
  • If calves under 120 days are not tested, they will be eligible for movement once the herd retains its free status, until they reach 120 days of age.
Improvements in calf welfare and quality 

Ray Doyle, Livestock and Environmental Services Executive of ICOS, said:

“We have seen great improvements in calf welfare and quality of calves presented for sale in marts since the change in the TB testing regime, due to Covid restrictions, but when Covid has abated, this exemption should be continued.”

“With ongoing dairy herd expansion and the continuing trade of dairy bred calves, it will be a positive development to continue with this exemption.

“For example, some farmers may expand their calf rearing facilities to bring calves from the minimum trading age of 10 days right up to weaning at a possible 70 days or so and not have to test animals. This has a major economic benefit and also reduces stresses on animals and pressure on farmers.”

Animal welfare the

Animal welfare ‘the real winner’

Doyle said it may also be the catalyst to develop entire systems to handle larger numbers of calf rearing units and create business opportunities for existing and new farmers.

“This spring has seen very positive mart trade for great quality calves, and it has been supported by the exemption to test within 42 days.”

“When the pressure of having to sell before an animal reaches this age is not there, then animal welfare is the real winner in addition to improved returns for farmers where the seller obtains better prices, and the purchasing farmer receives a more robust animal.”

“We need to develop our future beef systems around the simplest and most economical use of dairy bred calves, as their numbers continue to rise, and measures must be created that promote a simpler and more streamlined trading of animals while also promoting best animal welfare.”

“Live shipping of calves has many impediments including pressure from NGOs, weather conditions and space on boats. All these issues will translate into more and more calves needing to find farms within Ireland. We need to assist this growth in home trade as much as possible with practical measures.” Doyle of ICOS concluded.

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