Almost one month after the government introduced a ban on on-farm burial of fallen stock, the scheme to provide an alternative disposal system looks set to collapse.
DEFRA extended the deadline for farmers to register their support for the scheme to yesterday (28 May) after a poor response. The latest figures on fallen stock outlets show a potentially serious shortfall.
Of 377 outlets for fallen ruminant stock in the UK, a staggering 295 (more than 78%) are hunt kennels, which would leave farmers with serious disposal difficulties if hunting were banned. In established livestock farming areas such as Bridgend, South Wales, the nearest knacker-yard is more than 100 miles away.
Even DEFRA itself appears to see the irony in this, stating on its website: “A ban on hunting with hounds could have implications for the disposal and humane slaughter of fallen stock in some areas.
“However, most hunts already make a charge [for this service] and there is no reason why such a service should not continue as a business opportunity, should hunts be banned.”
Alastair Jackson, secretary of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, reacted to this statement with incredulity: “Hunts make a purely nominal charge for collecting fallen stock – it is a service to the farmers whose land we hunt over.
“Kennels certainly wouldn’t take up carcasse disposal as a business in the event that hunting is banned – if there were no hunting, there would be no infrastructure and no organisation to conduct such a business.”
Read the full story in this week’s Horse & Hound (29 May), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.