The new policy, which will come into effect after 31 December 2020 and supported by Arla’s elected farmers, will see no healthy calf slaughtered or euthanised on farm within the first eight weeks of life, allowing all calves not entering the dairy chain to be reared as beef cattle.
The eight week period will allow calf rearing to the best standards to increase selling options. With a variety of farm set ups across Arla’s owners there is no requirement that Arla farmers rear all calves on site, however it will be the farmers responsibility to ensure they are not slaughtered or euthanised in this period.
After initiating widespread industry, Government and retail discussions on how to help support farmers with this move, the cooperative is now asking companies and experts driving innovation through the sector to help its farmers with the more challenging aspects of the policy.
Graham Wilkinson, Agriculture Director Arla Foods UK comments. “As an industry we need to find the solutions and create a better market to ensure every calf’s life has a value. Many Arla farmers have already shown that good breeding practices, identifying new supply chains and evolving calf care can significantly increase the market opportunities for their calves. Those who are yet to find a solution might be helped by new innovations launched or being developed in the sector, we’re keen to hear from companies who fit this bill.”
Arla is particularly interested in hearing from companies innovating in calf health, housing or nutrition and will focus its search on innovations that can help those who will need to meet the policy under more challenging circumstances. This includes farms under TB restrictions or those with calves born from smaller stature cows.
Arthur Fearnall, Arla farmer, and member of the Arla Board of Directors comments, “Dairy beef already plays an important role in delivering a high quality product to consumers. The response we have already had to this policy across Arla farmers and the beef and dairy industry is very encouraging. Calf housing, health and nutrition are areas seeing new developments all the time, and we’re excited about what might be available to support farmers in preparing for the new policy going live.”
Arla has already initiated discussions with DEFRA, leading retailers, industry bodies and its farmer owners as it seeks to bring together the supply chain to support its owners on this matter. Trials have been carried out with two major genetic suppliers to also look at reducing the number of pure bred male dairy calves born every year through a breeding strategy maximising the use of sexed and beef semen.
Graham Wilkinson, Agriculture Director for Arla Foods UK continues, “This is another industry leading step taken by Arla’s farmer owners that shows their commitment to animal welfare and best practice in dairy. We’re encouraged by the support already shown and hope that by seeking wider expertise and knowledge we can evolve the way we work together across agriculture industries. With 30% of UK beef being imported, working across the supply chain and across both Beef and Dairy in this way could also prove a big step in making Britain further self-sufficient in beef.”