Cattle being clipped ‘willy nilly’ at factories

Farmers are advised to take photographs of their cattle before they leave the yard by the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) because of what it claims is “excessive clipping of cattle” by the factories.

The organisation’s general secretary Eddie Punch told AgriLand that cattle are being clipped “willy nilly” at the factories.

He also pointed to the fact that there are no measures in place to ensure that the clipping is only done in circumstances where it is deemed appropriate to do so.

“Cattle are going into the factories and if they are deemed to be dirty the factories get a guy in to trim the hair and dirt from them,” Punch added.

“The factories claim that dirty hides can lead to E. coli in the beef – but the reality is that the average beast is not that dirty.”

Clean vs. dirty

Punch added that it stands to reason that grass-fed animals or those taking meal would emerge cleaner than perhaps cattle in slatted sheds.

He pointed out that these matters do not take from the fact that “there is no consistency” with the factories in relation to clipping.

If cattle are grass fed or taking meal there is a difference in their dung – we know this and it doesn’t make a great pile of difference really – cattle that are in slatted sheds can be a bit different alright.

Punch added that the real issue is “there is absolutely no consistency with the factories when it comes to cattle being clipped”.

“They are being clipped willy nilly and it’s €5 a go; if you have 30,000 cattle going through the factory in one week, and 10% of those are clipped, that’s €15,000 in the pocket of the factories,” he continued.

“That’s €15,000 taken out of the pockets of farmers and lost to them in one week.”

‘Onus of responsibility’

Meanwhile, Punch said the issue has been coming to the fore in recent weeks because it was happening “on a regular basis” at the factories.

This is happening on a very regular basis at the factories and the reality is that we don’t even know if the cattle need to be clipped in the first instance.

He concluded: “If it is a case that dirty cattle is a problem then there is an onus on beef farmers and on Teagasc to ensure that farmers do keep their cattle clean as required.

“Farmers would need to be taking photographs of their cattle before they leave the yards and there needs to be CCTV put into factories to deal with this.”