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ANY MISTREATMENT OF YOUNG CALVES IS UNACCEPTABLE

Jul 11, 2023 | Latest News, Press Releases | 0 comments

ICSA president Dermot Kelleher has expressed his outrage at the animal welfare transgressions exposed by RTE Investigates. “Any mistreatment of young calves is completely unacceptable, and anyone found to be acting unlawfully must be held accountable. The Department of Agriculture has rightfully launched an investigation and we in ICSA fully support that move.”

Mr Kelleher said while our live export sector must be protected the programme exposed a raft of failings that all need to be urgently tackled. “Live exports are hugely important for our cattle and sheep sectors, and they need to be done right and done to the letter of the law. Extremely exacting standards for the care of animals during transportation have been thoroughly legislated for and it is imperative that these standards are enforced.”

Mr Kelleher said the programme also reinforces the need for the dairy sector to focus on producing quality calves for the beef sector by improving their Commercial Beef Value (CBV). “We are starting out on a programme that aims to genotype the entire herd. We know there are significant variations in efficiency and cost effectiveness when it comes to finishing animals depending on their beef merit. Farmers buying calves, weanlings, and store cattle in marts need this information to make informed decisions about what they are buying and how these animals are likely to perform. It does however require a real drive to get dairy farmers to get the balance right in breeding and make sure that cows are not only bred for a narrow range of traits.”

Continuing Mr Kelleher said, “It is important to remember that our dairy sector is a success story in terms of meeting the objectives set out by Government when quotas were abolished in 2015. Whether those same objectives would be set today is debatable, but the fact remains that many dairy farmers have invested heavily and increased production mainly through efficiency. It is also important to remember that despite repeated references in the media to an increase in the national herd that the national herd has remained largely stable since we joined the EU in 1973.

This does not detract from the fact however that Government and the dairy sector has a responsibility to adequately plan for the volume of bull calves produced each year. This must include contingency planning for unforeseen eventualities such as we saw with the temporary closure of the Pignet lairage in France earlier this year, the knock-on effects of which resulted in a breakdown in the system as a whole and led to the many of the animal welfare issues exposed by RTE Investigates. Animal welfare must be prioritised every step of the way.”

Mr Kelleher said other safeguarding measures that need to be examined include increasing the age at which calves can be transported to 28 days and installing lairage facilities at Irish ports. “Nobody wants to see a repeat of the images we saw on our television screens last night. While these images are certainly not reflective of the how the vast majority of farmers or animal handlers treat animals in their care, they are nevertheless deeply disturbing and must not be tolerated.”

ENDS

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