TB2 Restricted Cattle Sales given a boost

3rd August 2011

Most markets in England and Wales saw trade react very positively last week, as numbers tightened for both lamb and beef, due to the improved weather and farmers taking the opportunity to make hay and silage, and to get the harvest under way.

Prime lamb averages once again rose to 200p/kilo in some markets, this being a rise of between 15p/kilo and 20p/kilo liveweight on the week. Prime cattle sales were reported as being "the best trade ever seen" by several auctioneers. In comparison the deadweight price seemed to remain static, which forced many to return to the live auction ring, where competition determines the value, to secure their supplies.

Finally, after many months of discussions and consultations, those farmers caught under bTB2 restrictions can move their cattle to a Red Slaughter Market, licensed to sell TB2 restricted cattle, under a general license. This means that there will no longer be a 5 day wait whilst a licence is issued by AHVLA.

Throughout the discussions, initiated by the LAA, caution was given to ensuring that any alterations to the old regime did not compromise disease control and the possible spread of TB through animal movements. I am sure that the end result has delivered a higher degree of security, whilst facilitating competitive, open and transparent trade, and at the same time offering those farmers burdened by TB disease control measures an alternative marketing option.

Previous rules required keepers, wishing to sell TB restricted cattle through a Red Slaughter Market, to apply to their local AHVLA office for a licence, at least five days before each proposed movement, detailing the ear tag numbers of the specific animals being moved.

As from 1 August 2011, livestock keepers in England and Wales can apply for a licence that allows the general movement of cattle from their restricted premises through a Red Slaughter Market. The new licence authorizes the movement of clear tested cattle, within a restricted herd, for a period up to 90 days after the last complete TB herd test. Owners are responsible for adding relevant ear tag numbers to a copy of the licence, at the point of sale, with the advantage that they will be able to pick out cattle at the time of loading rather than having to record identification numbers in advance.

The LAA believes that for the first time in several years farmers wishing to sell prime cattle and cull cows out of a bTB2 Restricted herd can do so as easily through a Red Slaughter Market as they can directly to an abattoir. The changes made finally put both marketing systems on a more level playing field. With the trade for prime heifers, steers, young bulls and cull cows in livestock markets being so brisk this clearly offers some farmers a very valuable alternative marketing tool.

I strongly recommend that farmers with bTB2 restricted prime cattle and cull cows to sell discuss the options available to them with their local auctioneers.