Another pointless victim of bovine TB.
This hired seven year old bull, who has appeared in these pages previously, arrived on the farm in May, after passing a pre-movement test for TB. In order to move on from here to his next assignement, he must pass another pre-movement TB test. This was done about 4 weeks ago, and shockingly, he failed. There is no appeal. After waiting 4 weeks, he was destroyed on farm, and removed to an abattoir for inspection. We have never had a reactor on our farm before. The ministry vet said it is highly likely that he has caught the disease from ill badgers, which have latrines all over the field where the bull has been. We will now have to have all our cattle tested again, possibly twice, at 60 day intervals, will we have any more reactors? No attempt will be made by any authorities to establish whether the local badgers carry the disease.
This distressing scenario has been enacted on hundreds of cattle farms for many years now, whilst the government of the day has done nothing but procrastinate, rather than face up to a situation that has spiralled out of control, has cost a fortune (£63 million last year) and caused enormous upset and pointless destruction. 30 years ago this disease was well under control. The ministry acknowledges that in the late 70’s and 80’s, positive control strategies using thorough culling of badgers in infected areas, led to reduction in TB outbreaks in cattle. (http://tinyurl.com/2w47clg)
The new government, to its credit, has at last published a consultation document on whether to issue licenses to farmers and landowners for the vaccination and culling of badgers in infected areas. This is somewhat of a slippery move however, which is quite likely to pitch well-meaning but possibly misguided animal rights people against farmers trying to escape a hopeless cycle of destruction.
On a lighter note, harvest finished with a huge sigh of relief, on 6th September, just half an hour before a considerable downpour, which would have kept us from finishing for another day or three. We are well into the autumn corn sowing season now, the oilseed rape is all sown and up and growing well, the moisture has been a great benefit to the rape. We have also managed to sow around 70 ha of wheat, with plenty more to do yet.