Hunt kennels have offered to play a vital role in the disposal offallen stock when the European Union bans the farming community from burying or burning animal carcasses on 1 May.

From that date onwards the only lawful methods of disposal will be rendering, incineration or through hunt kennels.

Farmers are being urged by the government to sign up for a subscription scheme to collect and dispose of fallen stock, with smallholdings paying £50 a year, medium-sized farms paying £100 and large units paying £200.

However, according to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs the scheme will not become operational until “the next few months” following the May deadline. Hunt kennels have offered “to do all that they can” to help farmers deal with a surplus of fallen stockduring that period and beyond.

A spokesman for the Countryside Alliance said that the hunt kennels can provide an indispensable service to farmers and that the Masters of Foxhounds Association has been working with DEFRA to address the situation.

The hunts disposed of some 366,000 fallen stock in 2000, although that rate is likely increase following the May 1 deadline. So far, 146 hunts have offered to help with the surplus, but the CA has advised that it is worth checking to find out if an individual hunt will collect the carcass or not.

“It is a further example to DEFRA of the close links between the hunt and the local farming community,” said the spokesman.

“There are still many unanswered questions about the government’s proposals, including whether they will prove workable, and when the scheme will be introduced, but hunt kennels will continue to do all that they can to help their local farmers.”