Lead weights on cow collars suspected in 'poison' deaths
An animal health-monitoring company had already begun replacing lead weights in heat-detection collars used on cows prior to being contacted about suspected poisoning cases on a dairy farm.
Cork-based Alanya Animal Health Monitoring has said that some of its older 'legacy' collars, used on farms since 2013 to help detect when a cow is in heat, had lead weights coated in rubber or plastic material to keep them in place.
The firm said it was co-operating fully with the investigation being undertaken by the Department of Agriculture after at least seven cows died on a north Cork farm of suspected lead poisoning.
"We were contacted by the Department of Agriculture to advise that it was investigating a possible case of lead poisoning on a farm in Cork and we were an obvious possibility, but not the definitive source, as some of our legacy or older collars contained lead weights inside a composite coating made of a rubber or plastic material," a spokesman for Alanya Animal Health Monitoring said.
"We immediately co-operated fully with the departments when we understood the position. We have a positive relationship with the Department of Agriculture and all of the regional vets."
The department said the investigations were centering on degrading lead weights on the collars worn by the cows and there was no evidence of any other source of contamination.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has confirmed it is satisfied that there is no risk to consumers after milk from the farm, which supplies Ireland's largest farmer-owned dairy business, Dairygold Co-operative Society, was prohibited from entering the food chain.
A spokesman for Alanya said it had not been instructed to recall any of the collars.