Wednesday, August 11, 2010

An alternate view on farming: Farming in the UK

I ran across a question on a public forum that asked how much it costs to raise a sheep or pig, and I wrote an answer for the costs of a pig that I raise.  You can see that answer in this entry

But what I thought was interesting was the answer from a UK sheep farmer.  I'll quote it here: 

"To buy a 3 month old lamb, providing you can find one to buy, will cost you about £30, if you buy a new born lamb it might cost you £10-£15, but you will need to feed it lamb milk at a cost of £40 a bag. Then it will need grass and hard feed which costs about £7 a bag, you'll probably need 2 bags. Also think of cost of dosing to ensure lamb is worm/parasite free, plus lambs do much better with another lamb so you'd be better getting 2. A weaner pig costs about £70 not sure on feed costs but it'll be similar to that of lamb feed, but you'll need a lot more of it! Once you have fattened your animals then you have transport costs to your local abattoir and killing out costs are about £25-£30 for a lamb, I'd triple that for a pig. Also if you haven't already got a holding number from DEFRA you'll need one, along with a flock number, tags, herd number for pig, or slap mark, plus the usual movement papers and animal record book. You might be as well buying a whole lamb and half a pig from the butchers."

What I found really interesting was the references to the holding number and DEFRA, movement papers and animal record book.   I've complained about zoning and land use policy in the USA, and that's caused me my share of grief, but we don't have the level of record keeping or permitting that this fellow is referring to. 

DEFRA stands for Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, and it apparently regulates farming and several other areas, for the UK.  On their website they're soliciting for input to reduce "red tape", and there are a number of comments.  Here's a quote from one

  "4: RPA SFP. Apart from the obvious, could livestock keeping be decriminalised (stringent eartag rules putting off potential landlords fearful of losing SFP) to make life more bearable."
Martin Whitaker, 6 August 2010 at 3:03pm

Wow.  Keeping livestock is a criminal offense.   They regulate cattle trailers that are longer than 12 feet.  There are multiple record inspections, and the records have duplicate information.  One fellow talks about groups of inspectors visiting. 

A chicken farmer says: 
"As a broiler chicken producer, I asked the environment agency how many chicken farms of the size targeted had been involved in pollution cases. The answer was none as far as they new, and they admitted that they had never been on a a chicken farm in the past as they have had no need to. Now that the directive has come in, I asked my inspector why they come every 6 months, to which the reply was that seeing as we’re paying so much, they have got to be seen to be giving good value! I suggested I paid him extra not to come at all."
I'm happy to be in the USA.

You can see the original question and answer here.

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