Farm Ireland

Saturday 25 November 2017

Vets claim €200m gain from meat factory upgrade

Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

The agriculture industry would gain a minimum of €200m annually if better animal health monitoring facilities were installed in meat plants.

Following the successful installation of disease monitoring equipment in Slaney Meats' new abattoir in Bunclody, Co Wexford, veterinary leaders believe that the recording and feedback of common diseases evident on carcasses would save farmers millions every year in better animal performance.

Slaney Meats' managing director, Rory Fanning, said that the system cost less than €100,000 to install but that it was already generating significant savings for farmers and the plant through better disease management systems.

Veterinary Ireland chief executive, Finbarr Murphy, said that liver fluke, pneumonia and pregnant animals being slaughtered were the main problem areas.

Liver fluke is by far the biggest issue, with only 25pc of beef livers salvageable. Mr Murphy claimed that 73pc of the national beef herd were affected by the disease, costing beef farmers €93m a year.

He said dairy farmers were losing almost the same amount because of the disease.

Veterinary Ireland believes that at least €90m of these losses are preventable through more targeted fluke prevention programmes.

The veterinary body added that spending €16/hd on pneumonia vaccinations for 1.2m cattle would generate savings of €36-113m.

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Increased levels of scanning to reduce the numbers of cows and heifers being slaughtered at an advanced stage of pregnancy is the last key area that vets believe there is room for improvement.

Around 25pc of dairy cows and 15pc of beef heifers presented at meat plants are pregnant, many in an advanced stage of gestation. The veterinary union believe that if these missed pregnancies were allowed go to full term that farmers would be almost €10m better off.

Slaney Meats will host a meeting to help farmers improve disease control in the Mount Woolsey Hotel on Thursday, December 12.

Irish Independent