It is normal practice for some cows to be marketed in-calf, but because of the difficulty of identifying in-calf cows precise estimates cannot be made of the numbers which have either been slaughtered or exported. Total marketings of cows in the United Kingdom in the early months of 1964 were higher than in the corresponding months of 1963, reaching a peak in March; but by May, 1964, were less than in May of the previous year and the decline is continuing. The March census of in-calf cows on farms showed a marginal increase on the March figures for 1963.
Is the Minister aware that it is strongly rumoured in well-informed farming circles that a considerable number of in-calf cows were slaughtered at the time when beef prices were particularly high and there was a good trade with the Continent? Has he in mind any steps to take to prevent farmers from having their in-calf cows slaughtered in this way by passing them off as barreners?
Certainly I have not. I should have thought, as the hon. and learned Gentleman says that very high prices were obtained, that this would be a good thing for the dairy herds, because it gets rid of the old cows. I should be surprised if the hon. Gentleman does not find from the June census, taking into consideration the increasing numbers of heifers in calf, that the dairy herds are in better health thereby than before.