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December 18, 2008

                   
UK dairy beef sector threatened by bovine TB
           
 

The UK's dairy beef supplies are under pressure due to increasing bovine TB cases, according to the National Beef Association (NBA).

 

Declining numbers of calves for rearing and finishing in the midlands and southern England indicates that the dairy beef sector's output will soon be unable to meet demand, said the NBA.

 

Growers and finishers, who previously supplied about 55 percent of the UK's beef cattle, had been hit by the spreading of bovine TB that contributed to a calf supply shortage, the association said.

 

NBS director, Kim Haywood, said the number of available beef calves had dropped by 10 percent in the past year.

 

About 56,000 calves were culled between June and October, up 25 percent from the same period last year when the number of TB cases increased, said Haywood.

 

Haywood said the spread of TB meant a greater pressure was on the breeding of dairy heifer replacements as more dairy cows were slaughtered as reactors.

 

Statistics suggest that about 70,000 potentially useful dairy bred bull calves, nearly one month's supply of beef cattle for British slaughterhouses, were shot instead of reared, and the number will increase when another 20 percent increase in dairy farms under TB movement restrictions is confirmed in 2009, Haywood said.

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