I had a very interesting conversation today with Danny Goodwin Jones, a former farmer and founder of of Trace Elements Services Ltd. He started his company in 1982. He was having various problems with his land and stock. By trial and error he discovered the value of trace elements and subsequently started the new business to help other farms.
Most of us will be aware that TB (all forms) is worse in those whose immune system is compromised. It is a disease associated with poverty; malnutrition, poor living conditions and overcrowding. He believes that the increasing incidents of bTB are related to a lack of immunity in cattle. Continued use of nitrogen (he suggests using urea as a more acceptable alternative) over the last century has depleted stocks of vital trace elements in the soil. Zinc, cobalt, selenium and iodine; all critical for health are now depleted from many areas. Many farmers feed maize to stock which is low in several minerals, particularly selenium. This is widely known and most farmers feed mineral supplements to their animals to counteract this effect. Danny has evidence that treatments with trace elements, particularly with selenium and iodine, can produce outstanding results. He even maintains that restoring trace elements to an impoverished pasture cuts fertiliser and vets’ bills. I have spoken to several farmers who agree there has been improvement since they started using trace elements to improve the health of their stock and land. many of these have had previous problems with bTB in their herds and are now clear. However, I asked Danny if there were cases of farms using the trace elements and still going down with Tb and he said there were.
Danny has put a great deal of effort in over the years, sadly to no avail, trying to get both Defra and WAG to undertake research and trials into the use of trace elements. Under pressure from pharmaceutical interests and the veterinary industry, the role of trace elements is dismissed. It is obvious why.
Danny will be providing us with more information on the subject in due course.
See also http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200304/cmselect/cmenvfru/638/638we05.htm Memorandum on Bovine TB submitted by Dr Helen Fullerton (written evidence to the Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs back in May 2004. This is a very interesting paper, which discusses use of trace elements. It also provides some very interesting information regarding false positives and false negatives.
18 Jun 2013, 9:39 AM
MG has reminded us of this paper athttp://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199899/cmselect/cmagric/233/233app30.htm It is dated 1999 but contains a lot of interesting and useful information submitted by Hellen Fullerton PhD. '"Can optimum trace element nutrition activate resistance to tuberculosis and provide a common solution for both cattle and badgers? "
18 Jan 2013, 6:10 PM
Interesting piece by Graham Harvey in The Land Winter 12/13 edition. It is an article about 'Goosegreen Farm' and Frank Newman Turner, a legendary organic pioneer. When he started to manage the farm in 1940 it was not in a good state and the dairy herd was hit by uncontrollable outbreaks of contagious abotion and TB.
At the heart of his new system were herbal leys. He was convinced tht by providing his Jersey cattle with organically-grown, mineral rich pasture he could prevent disease, including TB.
In 'Fertility Farmer' Turner tells the story of his favourite Jersey stock-bull. A routine TB test showed the animal to be a violent reactor. The then Ministry of Agriculture recommended slaughter but instead Turner isolated the bull on some off-lying land and put him on a diet of fresh, green foods grown on fertile soil. Ministry vets continued the TB testing and after a few months declared the bull free of infection. Five years later he was still winning awards and siring prize-winning cows.
Turner concluded; 'All my work indicates that TB can be prevented and cured by food grown on a properly-managed soil, provided an adequate ration of mineral-rich herbs is included.'
'The health of the soil, allied with proper stock management are keys to beating bovine tuberculosis, Waihopai valley farmer Aiden MacKenzie says in a discussion paper presented to a meeting of Marlborough Federated Farmers.'
"In a nutshell, if the soil is balanced in terms of mineral elements and healthy, then grass nutrition is balanced and healthy and healthy stock result," he says.
"The consequence is maximum immunity to diseases whether it be TB or others."
In soil balance, key elements such as magnesium, potassium, calcium and sodium are vital. If grass is well balanced, then the animal gets a well-balanced diet. Hence its immune system is fully functional and repels disease.
Historical studies of Tb that go back to the Iron Age or before, have shown the disease had always hit populations "nutritionally impoverished". Scientific studies have shown apart from reduced soil fertility, acidic soils are directly related to increased "myco-bacteria" problems, such as bovine Tb.
"In summary, acidic soils create a cascade effect of an accumulation of available iron. High iron levels allow myco-bacteria to thrive and increase and create the pathology within an animal's body for strains such as tuberculosis. Myco-bacteria `hijack' the iron from the animal's body, which leads to classic anaemia, associated with chronic Tb." In addition, the "theft" of iron disables the immune system with a resultant increase in Tb.
Tb bacteria is almost always present, but needs lower animal condition with a low immune system, to take hold. "If animals are healthy because of a balanced environment in soil and pasture, then the efficient immune system stops Tb taking hold." Tests in Michigan, US, had shown conclusively, liming the soils caused a 10-fold reduction in Tb.
On his Waihopai Downs station property, Mr MacKenzie said by concentrating on balanced soil, thus balanced feed and therefore a healthy balanced animal with an efficient immune system, not only diseases but parasites became non-existent. "We rarely have to drench animals for parasites, depending on random but regular dung samples to measure any parasites."
Mr MacKenzie said his views were not new and back in the 1930s, studies showed cattle raised on balanced soils and boxed in with foot and mouth disease infected cattle, did not contract the disease. Other research proved the same in the 1950s with Tb and brucellosis. "What I am telling you is not new science – it has been proven over 80 years, over and over again. It can be seen in humans with disease. A lack of proper balanced diet and overcrowding creates an optimum environment for disease.," he said.
Mr MacKenzie criticised the Tb policy of the Animal Health Board in scattering toxins like 1080 indiscriminately over large areas and ignoring the solution of soil and stock management.
"Yet under pressure from chemical companies and vested interests, New Zealand during 1960 to 1970, embarked on aerial top dressing with principally super phosphate, thus creating a soil imbalance. It was not a coincidence that TB increased greatly in those decades." New Zealand's TB rates were currently very low at 0.3% compared to UK countries with 5 to 9 % incidence.
The strategy dependent on 1080 poison drops was not addressing the major cause of TB, he claims. The meeting decided to forward the discussion paper to Marlborough's TB-free committee.
3 Sep 2011, 2:50 PM
Two times Nobel Laureate Dr Linus Pauling stated: ‘One could trace every sickness, every disease and every ailment to a mineral deficiency’
3 Sep 2011, 2:05 PM
We have been sent copy of 'Why do horses eat dirt, wood and other indigestible things' by Dr Christine King. Whilst it does relate specifically to horses, it could also be applied to other herbivores, including cattle. It normally indicates there is a body imbalance ...
The report can be seen at www.animavet.com/EatingDirt.pdf
... and a couple of interesting websites on the same subject;
In the last video on the DEFRA page, the farmer cites that when his cattle see earth they always try and eat it. Cattle only eat earth when they have a mineral deficiency of some sort.. but I guess because his cattle are always doing it he thinks thats normal behaviour , says a lot about the state of his cattle....
3 Sep 2011, 1:07 PM
A working farm near Dick Roper (see above posting on 1 Aug) (calf rearing and beef unit) has never had a case of bTB - despite having a large number of cattle over more than thirty years in a so called TB hot-spot
The farm has always provided adlib powdered minerals and molassed liquid feed for their stock as part of their normal management.
4 Aug 2011, 1:50 PM
A recent paper by G V O'Donovan, H J Milburn (http://thorax.bmj.com/content/65/Suppl_4/A180.2) has indicated that high levels of iron in the soil are associated with an increased incidence of bovine tuberculosis in cattle.
Abstract Background Numbers and proportion of cases of bovine tuberculosis (BTB) in cattle are increasing, largely in the west country and Wales with few if any cases in the south and north east. Work by DEFRA demonstrates that TB in cattle is mutifactorial, as in humans, making some herds at greater risk of TB than others. Micronutrients could be one of these factors. Deficiencies, but also excesses, may cause secondary immunodeficiency and infection related morbidity in man. Different soil types contain different quantities of these trace elements and this will be reflected in pasture, hay and silage.
Objectives To determine whether certain rock and soil types predominate in areas with high incidence of BTB, and whether there is a case for investigating micronutrients in cattle.
Methods Information on cases of BTB and latest mapping of cases was provided by the Veterinary Research Laboratories (UK). Using information from the British Geological Survey and geological mapping, rock and soil types and their mineral contents were compared with density of cases of BTB.
Results There is a significant difference in the proportion of confirmed new incidents of BTB in the west of England (6.8/100 herds) and all other areas (p<0.001), and Wales (3.2/100) and the north (0.8/100) and east (0.3/100) of England (p<0.001). The rock types present in the west of England and Wales are rich in iron and aluminium while those in areas largely free of BTB are rich in calcium salts and oxides of silicon. Soils reflect the mineral content of the underlying rocks.
Discussion Iron deposits are common in areas with high numbers of cases of BTB, affecting quantities in pasture, hay, silage, and earthworms, a staple component of the diet of badgers, who are frequently blamed for this disease. Excess iron is associated with increased susceptibility to TB and more aggressive disease in man, and mycobacteria responsible for BTB need iron for their survival within the host.
Conclusions There is an association between BTB and high levels of iron in the soil. Further work is needed to determine levels of iron in affected cattle and its effect on immune responses.
1 Aug 2011, 7:01 PM
Gloucestershire farmer, Dick Roper, will not be shooting badgers on his land. Instead he will be feeding them a daily dose of health supplements to prevent the spread of a deadly disease hitting dairy herds.
Roper says his idea of feeding badgers vitamins and essential minerals keeps the disease at bay and he has almost a decade's experience! He has been leaving cakes made from sugary molasses laced with supplements, including high doses of selenium, near the badgers’ setts on his land as a way of keeping their immune systems in prime condition. Since then, the farm he managed on the Wills Estate, near Northleach, Gloucestershire, has been TB-free, apart from two cases and they were in pastures near a neighbour’s maize crop.
His idea has won the support of the organic food licensing body, the Soil Association and the Badger Trust and has even featured in BBC Radio 4’s the Archers.
Roper came up with his idea while researching why pedigree cattle on the estate had been stricken with bovine TB. He found a possible link to maize, which was the cows’ main winter fodder.
His said: “Maize is highly nutritious,” he said, “It’s full of sugar and fats but low in supplements. Cows love it and so do badgers. If you feed cows maize you have to give them supplements to boost their immune system. I just give my badgers supplements too.
“Everything I read pointed to the trace element selenium being the solution so I decided to make cakes of molasses with the highest dose of selenium permitted. I got Ministry permission and started leaving my cakes outside the setts in the woods. This has worked for nearly a decade in a TB hot spot but I can’t understand why Defra [Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] has not done more research into my theory...I don’t believe badgers have to be shot.”