Tuesday, 14 June 1983
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. N. Treacy: asked the Minister for Agriculture if he is aware of the large number of suck calves being sold from reactor herds in the south of Ireland; and if he will take adequate steps to control this serious problem.
It is, of course, difficult to control the movement of untagged young calves. However, the need to have calves ear-tagged for purposes of the calf premium scheme has served to reduce the problem. My Department seek to maintain close supervision of reactor herds and the position in this regard has been helped  considerably by a reduction of nearly 30 per cent in the number of TB restricted herds in recent months.
Mr. N. Treacy: Would the Minister agree that he stated earlier that the transport of animals has led to the spread of the disease? Would he further agree that dairy farmers usually try to sell suck calves as quickly as possible and, therefore, their interest in the £22 calf subsidy scheme would not be very great? I suggest that the Department should take steps to ensure that all suck calves born in a diseased herd are monitored and are tagged immediately rather than being allowed into the sales yards.
Mr. Hegarty: As the Deputy is well aware, in the past controlled movement of calves from reactor herds was wellnigh impossible, because calves were not tagged until they had their first test. It was not possible to identify how many calves had been born in any particular herd. The calf premium scheme has changed that position. Calves must now be ear-tagged to qualify for the premium. If they move, they must be accompanied by a birth certificate. consequently, illegal movement of calves is now much less likely. The possibility of detecting illegal movement is greater, and suspect calves can be traced back to the herd of origin. I agree it is a very real problem.
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