It is estimated that between 1,500 and 2,000 fallen cattle have gone without BSE testing as a result of nationwide strike action taken by knackeries over rendering cost increases.

Rendering companies increased their costs by as much as 60%, according to knackery operator Seán Phelan, who said that knackeries couldn’t afford a 6% increase, let alone 60%.

The Kilkenny man said that since the rendering companies closed their gates late on Friday 1 December, five test days for BSE have passed.

“I can’t move any of my stuff out of my yard. Unfortunately, the Department and the renderers are not speaking and are not solving this issue.

“If we can’t move them on, there’s no point bringing them in off the farms, and if we don’t bring them in, they’re not being tested [for BSE],” he said.

Knackery operators have been advised to take the build-up of fallen animals on their premises to Northern Ireland for rendering.

“I’m in south Kilkenny, I’m 10 miles from the local rendering plant and they want me to take it to Derry - at my own cost,” he said.