The reason for this mass slaughter was that last November a highly controversial new blood test, lately favoured by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, had shown 89 of the Yewdalls' north Devon herd to be infected with TB.
But when the cattle were subjected the same day to the long-proven "skin test", only one showed a positive reaction. The discrepancy was so glaring that Tony Yewdall, twice president of the Guernsey Society, pleaded with Defra for a re-test. Local officials were sympathetic but were overruled by London, which insisted that no further tests could be allowed - and eventually all 89 animals were destroyed.
Defra claims its blood test picks up TB "in its early stages". But post mortems last week showed only five cows to have been infected. If the test was reliable, TB should by now have been raging in them all. Thus 84 healthy cows were unnecessarily killed, costing taxpayers nearly £100,000 in compensation alone. The farm's losses are estimated at £100,000 more.