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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...

The skin test is flawed

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The skin test is flawed

A dairy farm in North Wiltshire has suffered the negative effects of the eradication policy since it experienced its first breakdown in 2000. Since then it has suffered intermittent but continued breakdowns, with the consequential stress and loss of income. The animals are pedigree, award-winning Holsteins and the emphasis has always been on the health of the cattle. It is stressed that all the animals on the farm have always looked visually healthy, with no clinical signs of bovine TB. It is a closed herd, with extensive grazing available (300 acres) for all but the dairy animals, which, when not indoors, have access to around 90 acres.

Throughout this period of herd breakdowns, there has been significant evidence regarding the unreliability of the existing skin test. Interestingly, on this farm, no inconclusive reactors have ever been found, only reactors. The reactors have always been in-calf heifers or, occasionally dry cows, all of which are grazed outside. A dead deer was found recently, which was presumed to have died from TB but this was not confirmed. The fact that it is mainly the cattle that are kept outdoors that are being identified as reactors means that wildlife in the area may be implicated.

When the first two reactors were identified in 2000 evidence of lesions were found on postmortem. This breakdown lasted six months and no other animals tested positive until the next breakdown in 2003. This involved 35 animals from one field. They all looked healthy, with no visual signs of disease. On postmortem only a third were found to have evidence of any lesions. It took over eighteen months to get over this breakdown. 8 animals failed, then 12, then another 12 over the 60 day testing periods. The farm was shut up for a year, movement was restricted and stock could not be sold. A total of 42 animals were eventually slaughtered. It is stressed that all the animals slaughtered as reactors looked healthy and had no clinical symptoms of any kind. In fact the farmer has said he has never seen any symptom of the disease in his livestock since the very first breakdown but every 60 days the farm was having to test, with all the inconvenience of this, time involved and stress of having to wait for results.

Then there were two clear tests but this was short-lived as shortly after eight animals were sent for routine slaughter. The slaughterhouse picked up lesions in one animal. This animal concerned was a 12 year old, ex dairy cow, which had successfully calved (producing good, strong calves each time) 10 times. She had never been ill in her life and her milk yield was constant. She had tested clear each time over her ten year lifespan, including the last test held just a short period before her slaughter - yet she was found to have lesions! Consequently the farm, despite being completely clear on the previous skin test, was forced into yet another breakdown routine and consequential restrictions. The farm is again on movement restriction. This farmer is at the end of his tether. As well as the severe and ongoing stress, he is losing out financially as the compensation from the slaughtered animals does not cover all the costs or losses incurred. He is unable to participate in the current sales and cannot currently sell his prize winning pedigree stock. He would normally be selling between 70 and 80 head of stock per year. His losses in this year alone are estimated at 85,000. He has no faith whatsoever in the existing skin test and is very concerned that the health of his animals is in the hands of others who do not have the in-depth knowledge he has regarding their health and welfare. Bovine TB, the policy, not the disease, has blighted his farm for ten years and sets to do so into the future too unless the policy is changed.

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