Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Sunday 17 December 2017

IFA row erupts over disposal of poultry litter

Martin Ryan

A rift has developed within IFA between livestock and poultry farmers, after a spate of animal deaths due to botulism was blamed on the disposal of litter from poultry houses.

Livestock farmers in the association are demanding a ban on the spreading of poultry litter on pasture land. Dairy and beef farmers claim poultry litter has been directly linked to outbreaks of botulism and has led to a number of animal deaths.

The IFA's poultry committee have sought agreement on a code of practice for the spreading of litter that would shield them from liability for livestock losses.

Under the proposal, farmers who accept litter on their land would not be liable for livestock losses, once notification of the intention to spread litter was served on all farmers within the immediate area up to three weeks beforehand.

However, the draft code has been rejected by livestock farmers who are determined that strict guidelines on disposal of the fertiliser-rich litter must be agreed and adhered to.

They want controlled storage of the litter once it has been removed from the poultry houses. They are also calling for trailers to be covered during transport of litter, a ban on spreading litter on pasture, and controlled use on tillage land, where it should be ploughed in immediately after spreading.

A spokesperson for the IFA said: "The code of practice for the spreading of poultry litter must protect neighbouring livestock farmers and also accommodate farmers who wish to avail of the value of poultry litter as a fertiliser."

The spokesperson added the IFA poultry committee was reviewing the code to ensure poultry litter could still be used.

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"The obligations within the code are strengthened to protect neighbouring livestock farmers," he added.

However, IFA national dairy committee member Michael O'Flynn, who runs an extensive dairy unit in west Limerick, said spreading of litter on pasture had to be stopped.

"Poultry farmers are going to have to get the job right. Spreading of litter has to be regulated.

"The toxins will last in silage ground and the silage when fed to stock will result in botulism. It should only be spread in front of the plough," Mr O'Flynn maintained.

Botulism is caused by decomposed poultry carcasses in litter. It has been blamed for a spate of cattle deaths in north Cork.

In a written Dail reply, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney told Deputy Michael Moynihan suspected botulism cases should be reported to the department.

"I can confirm that the Cork regional veterinary laboratory has recently carried out post-mortem examinations in relation to two bovine animals that are suspected of having died of botulism," he said.

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