Bord Bia’s Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme (SDAS) has been updated with new criteria, including a calf slaughter ban. The producer declaration, which has been seen by Agriland, states that it will be prohibited to slaughter healthy calves within the first eight weeks of their life through on-farm slaughter, an approved slaughterhouse or any other intentional off farm movement for the purpose of slaughter. The updated scheme will also require farmers to inform Bord Bia immediately if their herd receives an animal welfare enforcement action under the Animal Health and Welfare Act.
The scheme places responsibility on the herd owner to take all necessary steps to implement the new criteria. Farmers who do not comply with the new regulations will be required to put a calf breeding and management plan in place, which should be equivalent to the Bord Bia calf breeding and management template. The plan should track metrics related to calf health and welfare, such as cows and heifers served using artificial insemination (AI) and natural breeding methods. Policies and procedures on various aspects of calf management should also be outlined.
Dairy farmers will be required to use the dairy breeding index (DBI) and identify high-performing beef sires with desirable traits such as growth rate, feed efficiency and carcass characteristics. The plan must be acknowledged by the milk purchaser representative and completed on an annual basis until issues are resolved. Any farmers found to have a subsequent non-conformance could have their SDAS membership suspended.
The new criteria follow discussions between Bord Bia, farming organisations, industry representatives, Teagasc, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The proposals are expected to be formally authorised for release by Bord Bia’s Quality Assurance (QA) board later this year.
According to figures released on 25 April by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, 29,756 calves have been slaughtered so far this year.