Around 2,000 head of dairy cull cows, many of which could be sold into the food chain as dairy beef, are still entering the fallen stock scheme on a weekly basis.

"This number of ­cattle is costing the industry £840,000 each week and is doing nothing to make up the supply shortfall of beef in Europe," said the National Beef Association's chief executive Robert Forster.

A dairy cull is worth about £450 to the producer if sold into the food chain, yet some farmers are still paying £50 a head for animals to be taken away. Forster said: "They could be receiving a substantial cheque, rather than writing one."