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New scheme to prevent shooting of male dairy calves unveiled

News Section Icon Published 20/04/2009

Compassion in World Farming welcomes Blade Farming's new scheme to prevent the shooting of male calves at birth and to help boost dairy farmer incomes.

The so-called 'Blade Star Sires' scheme builds on rigorous genetic research to help farmers improve the beef qualities of the pure Holstein male dairy calves born on their farms, so that they will not need to export or shoot them.

Beef from the dairy herd supplies more than 50 per cent of cattle processed in the UK but some 2,000 Holstein male dairy calves are killed each week, at or shortly after birth, mainly because their body conformation is not suited to beef production.

Farmers who purchase semen from 'Blade Star Sires' will be supplied with an additional ear tag for the calves - an orange tag with embossed star, the herd number and individual Blade ID.

Richard Phelps, Blade Farming's Managing Director explains: "The whole objective of the scheme is to increase the value of the calves by improving the beef qualities that should benefit British farming and create a viable alternative to shooting for the dairy farmer. This scheme is by no means exclusive to Blade as we want more calf purchasers to see that a Star Sire approved calf should be a better Holstein beef bull calf and therefore create more of a demand for these animals."

Blade Farming is a member of the Beyond Calf Export Stakeholder Forum, an initiative launched by Compassion in World Farming and the RSPCA to improve the welfare of calves, working for solutions that combine high animal welfare standards with environmental principles and business sense.

Philip Lymbery, Chief Executive of Compassion in World Farming said: "Blade has been very active within the forum and is to be congratulated for identifying ways that dairy farmers can ensure that dairy bull calves can be reared and given a good life on British farms instead of being exported abroad to continental veal systems or killed at or shortly after birth."

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  • The Beyond Calf Export Stakeholders Forum was launched in 2006 and includes representatives from across the beef and dairy industry. For more information on the forum please read our news story and visit the external website,
  • Compassion in World Farming report: Long distance animal transport in Europe 2008 ( 1276.17KB), by Peter Stevenson
  • For background on live exports and to take action, please visit our calf export campaign pages

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