What happens when people have to pay to have cows rendered? There's a new FDA regulation that's called the "enhanced feed ban regulation." This means that cows over 30 months of age won't be able to be rendered without removing the brain and spinal cord. These dead animals typically were rendered and included in meant and bone meal.
The impact of this ban is discussed by Jim Dickrell of Dairy Today in a recent Dairy Talk Blog posting. Leslie Reed of the Omaha World-Hearld discusses this impact for both dairy and beef cattle in a recent article. Instead of being paid for the cows, dairy producers will have to pay to have the cows removed from their farm. This cost will likely be $100-$200 per cow. An alternative is to compost the cow, and many states extension services are organizing composting workshops for dairy producers. The University of Maryland Extension folks are organizing this now, for example.
There is a lesson here that can be learned from horse owners. Ever since slaughterhouses for horses were banned in the US, there was no economic incentive to have old or unwanted horses killed. All the emotional discussion about eating horses needs to be put aside, because not only does much of the world eat horse meat but we need to examine what happens to the horses when there is no economic incentive for the horse owner to get rid of the horse.
Horses end up being abandoned, neglected and often not fed properly. MJ Clark in a recent article in the Wyoming Business Journal described the situation of a horse rescue farm that would be over whelmed if they took donations. Helen Boreczky runs the horse rescue farm, and is quoted in the article as saying:
“I’d say the abuse has increased because people aren’t selling them to slaughter.”
As dairy producers don't have an outlet for downer, sick or dead cows, they will tend to leave the cows suffer longer before they die. I'm afraid that this will end up being a cruel fact of dairy farming in the future, and it will only open the industry up to further criticism. That's criticism that the industry doesn't need at this point in time.
Please do what you can as dairy advisers to prevent this problem.
Hope that helps.