The number of 'unwanted' dairy bull calves for export may be reduced thanks to a new initiative by major retailer, ASDA.
In a welcome move, ASDA has struck a deal with Cogent, a leading sexed semen company, to supply their dedicated dairy farmers with up to a 35% discount on sexed semen. Sexed semen allows dairy farmers to breed only female calves, greatly reducing the amount of 'unwanted' male calves born, and also enable farmers to breed more from beef bulls. As well as the discount, farmers attending ASDA's regional 'best practice' meetings will receive advice on how to get the best out of using sexed semen as a management tool.
Approximately 570,000 male Holstein-Friesian calves are born in the UK per year. Having been born male, the calves are not useful as dairy herd replacements. Currently the fate of many of these calves is that they are shot soon after birth or exported to continental veal farms where the transport and rearing standards seriously compromise their welfare.
ASDA's Agricultural Development Manager, Pearce Hughes, said "As well as the obvious benefits at farm level, I also feel that sexed semen solves a lot of the wider problems facing the industry; on welfare grounds it saves the need to dispose of unwanted bull calves."
Philip Lymbery, Chief Executive, Compassion in World Farming added "ASDA's decision to give its dairy farmers affordable access to sexed semen is a welcome step forward in improving the welfare of dairy calves. It has the potential to avoid the production of unwanted male calves, sparing tens of thousands of young animals the ordeal of long journeys to veal farms on the continent or being shot soon after birth.
"Congratulations to ASDA on this important innovation, which we encourage other retailers to consider."
For more information on calf exports see our campaign pages.