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A young lad is forced to slaughter his pet cow because of the current bovine TB policy.  read more...read more...
A 33 year old farmer and father of two in Shrophsire was killed by a bull as he tested cattle for bTB. He was conducting routine bTB testing on cows at Ashwood Farm in Whitchurch on 3 December 2013 when he was fatally injured by a bull  read more...read more...
There is such a focus on badgers that the fact that bovine TB is a cattle based problem has been set on one side. History has shown us that the incidence of TB in cattle can be brought down to a very low level by cattle based measures alone. Add to this the vaccination of badgers in hot spot areas and even their implication can be dealt with.  read more...read more...
Looking at some of the anti cull websites and having kept a close eye on media reports during the trial culls that have recently finished in Gloucestershire and Somerset, it would seem that if the culling is rolled out into other areas the level of opposition is not going to get less and could even worsen, meaning that policing costs alone (paid for from public funds) are going to be exorbitant.  read more...read more...
This article is a summary of the significant legal proceedings relating to incidents re cattle and bovine TB.  read more...read more...
In this well researched article by Mike Rendle he poses this question: 'Are badger infections following, not leading, bovine TB infections in cattle? ' and discovers some very interesting facts about cattle, badgers and bovine TB.  read more...read more...
Bovine TB - the views of a farmer based on field-based observations over many years. Peter Aspin was a herdsman, then a dairy farmer. He is now a beef farmer and also has a contract rearing dairy heifers for a local farmer. He was conventional and is now organic. He also run the Shropshire Agroforestry Project. All on 40 acres. To understand bovine TB one must first understand how significantly livestock husbandry practices have changed in recent years. I was on a dairy farm a couple of years ago - a closed herd (one that reared all its own replacement youngstock) - which had had its first bTB breakdown. Two veterinarians had arrived to do the follow-up sixty day retest. Talking to them I asked what they thought was the source of the problem. Their immediate response was that the adjacent dairy farm had purchased imported cattle the previous year, this herd had subsequently developed bTB and passed the infection either directly or via a vector to the neighbouring herd. Whether the imported cattle were themselves carriers of bTB or whether they had no immunity, I do not know and I assumed the vets did not know but the issue of cattle importation is a major concern for both farmers and vets. Ever increasing numbers of dairy cattle are being imported simply because they are cheaper if large enough numbers are purchased. I know of a herd of over two thousand dairy cows where not a single replacement animal is home-reared, every single one arrives on a lorry from mainland Europe.  read more...read more...
Dairy farm worker, Steve Jones, is not happy about the future of the dairy industry, or the current policy to cull badgers. The industry has many problems. Bovine tuberculosis is just one.'The cattle industry is long overdue for reform', he says. Here he sets out his comments.  read more...read more...
Farmers break law in bovine TB hot spot area. Mother and daughter Kathleen Wallis, 61, and Sarah Wallis, 23, of Appleton Farm, at Wick St Lawrence, near Weston-super-Mare, admitted 18 counts of providing false information as to the location of a number of their cattle when they appeared before Bristol Crown Court. The farmers admitted to failing to adhere to cattle disease control laws and were branded "ignorant, rotten and cruel" by a judge.  read more...read more...
A Tewkesbury farmer has been fined after selling milk from cattle with bTB. The cattle which had tested positive for TB but the farmer, Timothy Juckes, refused to believe the cows had the disease. He sent four cows without the disease to the slaughterhouse instead of the infected animals, Gloucester Crown Court heard on 28th June 2013. He then took compensation from Defra for the livestock, which should have been destroyed.  read more...read more...

A Gloucestershire farmer's perspective

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I've always run my own farm on the basis that, while I may have chosen to farm livestock and manage my land in a particular way, I would consider it a complete failure on my part if I could only make my business succeed by killing all the wild animals that interfered with my plans. We are meant to be the most intelligent of all the species and it is a sad reflection on farmers in general if our first reaction in the 21st century is still to blast away rather than make every effort possible to prevent problems in the first place.

The most common route of infection with M. bovis in is by ingestion. Badgers, in common with many other animals, scent mark their territories with urine. So, putting two and two together, the least we should all be doing is making sure that our feed stores cannot be contaminated by other creatures including badgers and cats. If you feed salt and minerals outdoors then these should be in a high-sided container because there's nothing more attractive, even to your own dog, than a heap of something to wee up against. If you feed silage on the ground and it's not all cleared up in one session then you should be feeding in troughs instead. If the silage is taken from a pit, the pit should be covered up in between feeds. Feeding cattle at the silage pit behind electric fencing is clearly dodgy because the silage is left exposed and can be easily contaminated. Pouring waste milk into the slurry tank and then spreading that slurry onto your grass must be bad practice.

I could go on but safe to say that, on my numerous journies round the south west picking up dairy calves, there seem to be a number of basic, common sense practices which I can only assume must have dissolved over time. Unless we can show that we have done all we can in terms of safeguarding our stock against infection in the first place then we should be ashamed of ourselves for reaching for the gun for a quick fix instead.

My objective is to see changes made to the current policy with the aim of a long-term solution which will, first and foremost, benefit cattle farmers and their businesses. It is up to cattle farmers to assess these ideas, see how they could work in practice and decide if they would rather stick with Defra's 'test and slaughter' policy coupled with the continual decimation of badgers or whether they would prefer a 21st century farmer-led, cattle health scheme giving them back responsibility and control of their own herds, along the lines discussed in the paper produced by the group RethinkbTB - see http://rethinkbtb.org/rethink_documents/BTB_rethink_2nd_edition.pdf.

After all, it's no more than Defra are already offering the non-bovine sector in their bTB eradication programme document from July 2011 - http://www.defra.gov.uk/publications/files/pb13601-bovinetb-eradication-programme-110719.pdf :

"We will encourage better risk management, including a review of current arrangements for movement restrictions following a TB outbreak to see if these could be liberalised; encouraging the non-bovine sectors to investigate options for insurance; exploring the potential of vaccination and providing targeted information to those managing the highest risks.

We will work in partnership with each of the sectorsí representative bodies to help these industries become self regulating without unnecessary interference from Government, in line with our objectives on responsibility and cost sharing."

This is a perfect illustration of the level of concern with which we would react to bovine TB in all animals if it were not for the outdated EU directive aimed at cattle which stipulates unrealistic 'accelerated eradication' whilst banning the use of cattle vaccine at the same time.

We can't go on killing badgers when we should be changing the rules instead.

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