More questions than answers surround the British Limousin Cattle Society, with the news that no fewer than 15 Mereside-bred cattle have been withdrawn from the herdbook and the progeny from them is unable to be registered from December 22, 2021 onwards.

In a statement to members, the British Limousin Cattle Society states: "Following instruction from Defra – All use of the following animals for pedigree breeding including the use of semen, embryos and oocytes should CEASE with immediate effect until further notice from the society. These animals are first generation progeny bred from a batch of imported semen from Jacot 36-94-005-555 which Defra has concern over. They have therefore been withdrawn from the herdbook.

"Whilst seeking urgent clarification from Defra, it is the society’s present understanding that all existing progeny and descendants that are currently in the 15 Mereside cattle, will remain as full pedigree animals in the herdbook subject to meeting the usual herdbook requirements."

The omitted cattle include the popular AI sire, Mereside Lorenzo, a Jacot son, which has been marketed through Cogent since 2016.

On a more positive note, Stuart Boothman, managing director of Cogent, said the company ran out of Lorenzo semen at the end of 2019, early 2020, and therefore most calves should already be on the ground, with many dead, when a lot of semen was used in commercial enterprises.

"There are not the issues with Jacot sons compared to previous Limousin bulls that have been de-registered, purely because Mereside Lorenzo has a full Limousin pedigree."

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Instead, the 15 withdrawn cattle from the Hazard family's Mereside herd are the result of Jacot semen imported from France that had been collected on the breeder's farm in France, and not an official AI collecting station.

The law on semen importation between EU members is governed by Council Directive 88/407, which states that animals must pass extensive health and disease testing before semen can be collected and certified to cross member state borders.

Semen must also be collected and processed in an approved semen collection centre, as identified by a veterinary registration number. Centres are inspected every six months.

Semen straws are identified with a specific number that must correspond to health documents and the process is managed on the online portal Trace Control Expert System (Traces).

Breed chairman, Harry Parker, also remained 'quietly confident' that the matter can be resolved with Defra given the fact that there are already 950 head of cattle registered with the Limousin Society sired by Mereside Lorenzo.

"We are seeking urgent clarification with Defra. It is the society’s present understanding that all existing progeny and descendants that are currently in the herdbook from the list will remain as full pedigree animals in the herdbook."

He added that progeny born on or after 22/12/2021 cannot currently be registered, but they can be birth notified in the usual manner.

The Mereside cattle which have been de-registered include Mereside Lorenzo, Mereside Ladybird, Mereside Lawbreaker, Mereside Leahmarie, Mereside Legolas, Mereside Lisamarie, Mereside Longbow, Mereside Lucinda, Mereside Olily, Mereside Ophelie, Mereside Orangina, Mereside Outlaw and Mereside Ozark.