The cost to farmers of collecting fallen stock may soar under the government’s new fallen stock scheme, which was launched last month, if hunts fold. Of the 160 approved collectors on the scheme, 29 are hunts.
Michael Seals, chairman of the National Fallen Stock Company, warns that a ban on hunting will have an impact on the scheme, if hunts are to close down and stop collecting.
“At the moment, hunts are providing competition,” he says. “But if some of those 29 [hunts that are signed to the scheme] go out of business it will reduce competition which will have a negative effect on prices for the customer. The impact will vary from area to area, depending on which collectors cover each postcode.”
Both knackers’ yards and hunts operate in most areas, but on the Isle of Wight, the only collector under the scheme is the Isle of Wight hunt. The other collectors on the island, which are not part of the scheme, are a zoo, which takes only a limited number of carcasses, and a specialist knacker, which will take only bovines that are older than 24 months.
The hunt, which is contracted under the scheme until May 2005, collects 80-90% of fallen stock on the island, including all calves and horses, the bulk of which are fed to hounds. Any carcasses that have to be rendered are taken to Frome, Somerset.
Ron Holland, the hunt chairman, says: “We’ll keep our facilities in working order for the period of at least one government, or five years. It gives us a lot of work. As far as the hunt’s other activities are concerned, our present membership is keen to have regular mounted meets. We will keep up all our social functions and arrange regular rides with hunt staff and hounds.”