In-calf Cows

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th July 1964.

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Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomeryshire 12:00 am, 13th July 1964

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the number of in-calf cows which have either been slaughtered in this country or exported abroad for slaughter during the first five months of this year.

Photo of Mr Christopher Soames Mr Christopher Soames , Bedford

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.

Photo of Mr Emlyn Hooson Mr Emlyn Hooson , Montgomeryshire

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?

Photo of Mr Christopher Soames Mr Christopher Soames , Bedford

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.

Photo of Mr Richard Glyn Mr Richard Glyn , North Dorset

Is my right hon. Friend aware that because of these rumours which were prevalent 100 cows brought for slaughter at Uddens Abattoir in my constituency were examined under veterinary supervision and it was found that not one was in calf?

Photo of Mr Christopher Soames Mr Christopher Soames , Bedford

Yes. I think that the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) has given voice to rumours, and certainly a number of them are ill-founded.