Farmers urged to check teeth numbers

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has issued a warning to its members, cautioning them to check that the number of teeth in cattle they buy is appropriate for their age. 

It said that it had been contacted by members who had been caught out by this situation. “Unfortunately for these farmers they did not become aware of this until the day they presented these cattle for slaughter, having previously purchased the cattle on the assumption they were correct in the market. On examination by the vet in the abattoir, it was decided that the number of teeth the animal displayed did not match the registered age. On these occasions, this meant that the animals were not considered fit for the supply chain and had to be condemned."

For an animal that is registered as being under 30 months on the Animal and Public Health Information System (APHIS) Online only to be found with eight permanent incisors during an inspection in the abattoir, this presents major concerns for Northern Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) about the traceability of that animal. For DAERA these traceability concerns present too much of a risk for the food supply chain and, as a consequence, these animals are condemned.

“For a genuine farmer caught in this situation, they are often left to carry the can because of the unscrupulous behaviour of someone who has previously owned the animal. If the animal is disposed of, it will hold no value, leaving the farmer with a significant loss and their only option will be to address this with the previous owner or mart they bought it in. Unfortunately this is another example of why the illegal activities of a few can sometimes lead to tighter traceability controls for the vast majority of farmers who do their business honestly and simply want to supply high-quality, fully traceable beef to consumers.”

Any farmer concerned about this is also invited to contact the DAERA central enforcement team confidentially on 028 867 68339.

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