Trying to express the inexpressible

Three days ago a slaughterman came to my farm to shoot Ernie, our stock bull, and three other cattle that had tested positive for bovine TB.

They had to be killed on farm because they’d been given worming medication which meant they couldn’t be taken to a slaughterhouse. I invited the NFU to come down and film what was one of the most distressing experiences of my farming life.

That night I started trying to put my thoughts into words for a blog post. This is as far as I got.

I woke up with a feeling of dread in my stomach again….

I don’t have facilities for slaughtering my own animals on the farm so an unbearable time was spent waiting for the first – a beautiful young heifer – to get into the correct position.

I can’t watch….the BANG, when it finally comes, is piercing and final. The other cows know exactly what has happened and what is about to happen.

What follows next is the undignified winching of the carcass up the ramp of the trailer leaving a trail of blood and shit in its wake.

Next is Hugo. With her huge doe-like eyes she looks at me and knows. The cow with the baby calf is becoming fractious and aggressive. She can smell blood and cordite. As she is becoming so wild, she is shot with a single bullet from a rifle. A perfect shot finally breaking the tension.

I feel sick to the bottom of my stomach and I can hardly make my legs take me to Ernie. The gentle giant. Loved by all. He trusts me and I know I am about to betray that trust. I put his barley down for his usual feed. But this is not usual. The marksman steps up and the bang echoes out. The finality is over-bearing. I have to leave.

Ernie the Bull with Tess , our daughters horse

Ernie the Bull with Tess , my daughter’s horse

The only consolation (as we always have to find a positive?) is the instant finality of it all. My animals are always well cared for and a quick and respectful death is what I ask for.

 

I am comforted by numerous messages from friends who loved Ernie. One dear friend even bought us an apple tree to plant in his memory. And my daughter sent a picture of Ernie and Tess, her horse, sharing some hay a couple of winters ago.

Looking back at what I wrote a couple of days earlier, I realise it’s a disjointed stream of thoughts and emotions. I find it difficult to read over again as I was in this position two years ago and, at that time, there was a solution on the horizon.

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307 thoughts on “Trying to express the inexpressible

  1. I’m so sorry you and your family have had to go thorugh this and continue to do so. I don’t agree with the badger cull, the science looks shaky, I’m not convinced it will help and it doesn’t help the reputation of farming. I wish there was another way to fix it, more money, a vaccine…if only people were prepared to pay the true cost of their food maybe there would be scope to change things. I don’t know, am just desperately sad for you.

    • Just a few facts:
      Mid 1970’s – annually just 400 TB reactor cattle NATIONALLY
      [a reactive culling policy in place at the time]
      Badger Act late 70’s – culling stopped, TB incidence started rising and still is
      2014 – 38,000 reactor cattle annually

    • Science is shaky?! You should read the scientific papers and also look into the effects culling has hadnin other countries. Vaccine?! Vaccine?! Oh sure its acceptable for us to continue slaughtering our own animals, and not allowing a vaccine for them isnt it! But god forbid we think about culling the MOST prominent vector of the disease!! We will NEVER be able to differentiate between wild and vaccine strain of tb if we continue to vaccinate and thus we will NEVER stand a chance to eradicate Tb in this country. Agriculture is a vital part of this country. We have very few industriea that genuinely makr something left in this country. Are you prepared to let that be flushed down the toilet in order to conserve infected, sick badgers?

    • Surely culling would be more beneficial to both sides in the long-term. If the problem gets worse, then it will have to be done anyway? And I don’t know much about bovine pharmaceuticals but a vaccine must be a long way off. Even if a vaccine is found, there must be untold amounts of testing and many clinical trials before it is even considered for the market and at what cost. In the meantime people are losing their animals and businesses. Times are hard enough.

  2. Yet again the horrible reality of TB on farm, the miserable loss of fine productive animals. The rest of the world, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, US Ireland have taken tough decisions and culled the wildlife vector. In England that vector is the badger, which also predate on small mammals, such as field mice and Leverets as well as ground nesting birds eggs and chicks.
    The countryside is all about a managed balance, the badger is now out of balance and needs to be controlled, just like the rats that had the cheek to enter badger protector Bill Oddies garden.
    It’s time for less “Wind in the Willows” emotion and more reality and pragmatism. We must cull some , not all badgers in High risk TB areas to regain the TB control we had in the early 80’s.

    • Badgers are territorial animals. Therefore, when a cete is culled, another group moves into their former territory, facilitating disease transmission. I think science and experimental evidence behind the badger cull is lacking and we must focus research on effective new alternatives so as to prevent catastrophes, as above, from continuing.

    • As a farmer in the lower region of Western Australia I can sympathize with your loss. In Australia bovine TB was eliminated in 2002, this was made easier then other countries because we have no native species that act as carriers for this disease, kangaroos and emus are culled because they are prolific breeders and there is a strong export market for kangaroo meat. As a second generation farmer I was raised on kangaroo meat and there is always some in the freezer, We have a “greenie” faction that opposes this but the reality is that there are more of them in Australia now then before white settlement due to more water points and grazing areas. My opinion is that species harboring this disease should be culled ensuring healthy animals are retained for future reseeding.

  3. David,
    Many thanks for being able to put over the realities of living with bTB. I certainly feel for you at the moment with what has happened this week. I’m testing again on Monday, on another short interval test, so we will see what happens,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Good luck.

      • My son forwarded me the link. For a long time now I have been saying to friends, particularly those “daft about animials” that I am sick of hearing about “Poor Badgers” but that I NEVER hear anyone say “Poor Cows or Poor Farmers,” – farmers who are not only losing cattle but often their livelihood as well. It really is time we got a government that will stop all this pussyfooting. I don’t think they care about cattle or farmers – they care about popularity and getting votes. Never mind culling and thereby inciting public reaction. Farmers should be allowed to keep down the badger population as they did in the past and thus try to maintain a proper balance. I am old and never had connections with farming so am not biased, but I do think we have grown into a nation of ‘animal daft’ instead of using animals to serve man. Cows give us Milk, Beef, Leather for clothes and shoes – even manure to grow food!. What do Badgers give us ?. We don’t hear anyone quote this equation. – Hilda

      • “Poor Badgers” and “Poor Cows” I say. Its us that do the killing to both animals. The cows were going to be slaughtered in most cases anyway. And cows dont freely give us all the products you mentioned anymore than you’d freely give your skin and meat; And we can all give manure for nothing Hilda. And when you said ‘using animals to serve us’ & ‘what do Badgers do for us’, Who put us above all else? (please dont quote me the Bible). A practical solution to this Tb mess is to give all cows the BCG vaccine to all cows, until they make a better vaccine which is can be distinguished from TB when tested for, thereby easing the cows suffering and saving us money and of course decrease our war with nature. Unfortunately i’ve probably already got your back up and you’ll think that al of what i said is ‘manure’. Al

      • Fair play you talk some shit alun. Have you ever thought that if we were all badger huggers and lentil eaters there would be reason to keep cattle. What would the countryside look like then? Let farmers do the farming!! Keep Britain farming 🙂

      • Rich
        Ha, you talk some shit too Rich.
        Every one of your sentences are poorly thought out. Thankfully you only managed a few sentences.
        Nobody would hug a wild badger.
        I have more on my menu than lentils.
        Keeping cattle isnt the main problem, killing them is .
        The countryside would look fine without cows, dont worry. There was a very very long time when the country side didnt have cows. Now the countryside mostly looks like fodder management for livestock, not as nature friendly as it may appear.
        Who would farm other than farmers, and nobody says farmers should’nt farm.
        Finally, Britain has been farming for at least six thousand years. I’m sure it will continue to do so. Hopefully it will be more morally agreeable.
        Now the real topic is – ” Is it justifiable to kill one species to preserve another domestic species whom we only intend to kill anyway?” Ultimately the poor cattle and badgers have got in the way of our economic interests.
        Now try thinking about that if you can.
        Al

      • I can see you are genuinely distressed by having your cattle shot . Now i’m not trying to aggravate you when i ask, Do you feel the same way when you drop off a load of cows at the slaughter house? after all its only the same for them there, just behind closed doors, and more stressful. You’ve probably already thought about it though.
        Would it matter if I felt the same when they come round and shoot the Badgers on my land. The main difference i can see is that badgers are’nt yet much of a source of income, unless you’re in the business of killing them.
        I recognize that these are harsh statements in light of your recent experiences, all the more valid given whats being called for, more killing of more animals. Al

  4. What can one say, apart from offering sincere and heartfelt ‘thanks’ to David for having the courage to demonstrate the hopelessness of the situation that he and so many more farmers and their families find themselves in faced with bTB. I have tears in my eyes simply from watching this and it is over ten years since we have owned any cattle of our own. As this tragic video and blog demonstrate, farmers are as close to their cows, if not closer, than they might be to their faithful Labrador companion. The animals have names, they all have individual characters and as David demonstrates, they are very much part of the family. Farmers are of course aware that when you have livestock you have deadstock, either as a result of illness, accident or old age. But this carnage is something else because it is avoidable. The principle block preventing progress in sorting the whole bTB problem out is politics. I very much hope that this horrible video goes viral to highlight the utter hopelessness of the situation that so many livestock farmers face, and that somehow it will encourage politicians to face up to their responsibilities to ensure that this dreadful disease can be eradicated. Good luck to you and your family David, although I suspect that the sounds of these particular gunshots will haunt you for the rest of your life.

    • Incredibly sad, but these deaths were more dignified than in any slaughterhouse, where thousands of bovine are killed everyday. If you allow your cattle to become part of the family, you have yourself to blame if you cannot remain resolute when it comes to their slaughter. The best thing about this disturbing video is that it highlights the fact that 30,000 head of cattle a year are lost to TB or suspected TB. The cull of badgers is necessary and should not be meddled with by people who are not farming livestock.

  5. To any horse owner who believes that there is not a problem with TB just imagine if your horse had to be put down. That equates to what farmers like David go through having to deal with these situations. I am a horse owner and farmer so I can vouch for the pain, upset, distress and despair. The cattle are not just animals they are part of the family. My heart goes out to you David and your family. And all the other farmers who suffer from this disease on a daily basis.

  6. I can only imagine what your going through mate, hope whatever way your business goes it brings you better luck than now! Ive never had cattle so i don’t know what your going though! Must be bloody awful having to say goodbye to the animals you have had such an emotional bond with! Best of luck

  7. Its so crazy that Badger cull protestors are so hell bent over the protection of one type of animal they are completely dismissing the suffering of a different animal the much loved, innocent and humble Cow and the farmers livelihoods that go down with them, A good dose of the real world would do these sad vindictive protesters a great favour. There will soon be no Beef/Dairy Industry left if this ridicules situation is allowed to carry on by our pathetic excuse for a government!

  8. Hi David,
    I find your testimonial extremely courageous and reaching a rare level of humilty,
    I am still drying my tears from yours words and video.
    Man, you are crying not because you are weak but because you’ve been strong for too long.
    Tears are the gate of new force and change.
    I can only recommend you to focus on the health of your soil, for a healthy soil will give you healthy plants and will give you healthy animals.
    I am reading also “Grass Productivity” by André Voisin, it is a book about strip-grazing written in 50’s. And last but not least, I recommend to read a lecture from Alex Podolinski called
    “Bio-Dynamics Agriculture of the Future” that you will find here:
    http://www.demeter.org.au/library.htm
    Remember, when you forgive you heal. And when you let go, you grow.
    It is OK to doubt what you have been taught to believe.
    Accepting that you were wrong is not giving up, it is called growing up.
    We can, ALL OF US, make a difference and develop our passions.
    We are here for a divine reason.
    Everything happens at the perfect time, at the perfect moment and for a reason.
    We can change a little thing every moment, at least we can try.
    “If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.”
    Gail Sheehy
    I will add that if we don’t change or don’t learn something new we are slowly dying.
    There are moments which mark your life. Moments when you realize nothing will ever be the same and time is divided in two parts – before this, and after this.
    My “this”, among others, is a film which I watched the 6th of April 2010 in a cinema in Paris. The translation from the French title of the film is
    “Local Solutions for a Global Disorder”

    Dony Miller said:
    “In the Age of Information. Ignorance is a choice.”
    Take care of yourself first, for you will take better care of the others afterwards.
    “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”
    Zig Ziglar
    I will add to Zig’s “Better Late than Never.”
    Question everything.
    With Love and Gratitude,
    🙂
    Aymeric

    “In biodynamics, we are builders of health- not healers of sickness.”
    Alex Podolinski

  9. Such a waste can I ask did they test positive for tb when checked after being culled I know of cows round here that react to the test while alive but when they look inside after cull they didn’t even have tb as some react to the test are tb free just makes it a whole lot worse thinking the culling was needless. All the while badger huggers are sat nice and happy in front of there tv with there pet cat on there lap wonder if they would feel the same if they got tb and where put down in front of them!

  10. I have been overwhelmed by the encouragement and support of people’s comments. Thank you. My hope with this blog was that it would help make more people aware of the realities of living with bovine TB and open up the debate surrounding it as far and wide as possible. Hopefully it will.

    • So sorry David, to you and your family. Absolutely heart-breaking, and with no immediate solution or end in sight, I send my thoughts and best wishes to you and all farmers who find themselves facing this on a tragically regular basis x

  11. we have sent loads of cows to slaughter…who have then been retested and come back as non reactors… what a waste!!! The test must be awful!

  12. why do we have to have our cows shot when every one admits it is rife in ALL our wild life.
    should we then need to be culling ALL wildlife to get this back under control or to hell with it
    AND just have to live with TB

  13. I don’t understand why cows aren’t vaccinated against TB? There has to be a better way than slaughtering one species to protect another and killing a species because it has TB

    • There is not currently a TB vaccine for cows, a vaccine is being developed but but in its current state would be illegal to use under EU law.

    • There is no current vaccine available, the fact that the cow is a meat/dairy product has severely limited the availability of a vaccine due to them making the meat/dairy product unfit for human consumption.

  14. So sorry to see this, something so many of us have experienced, do these stupid ill informed so called “friends” of badgers not realise that in time by not controlling this disease in badgers early they are not only condemning our whole badger population to a slow painful death as it slowly spreads through out the country but our deer population as well.
    Ultimately our lilly livered politicians more interested in votes rather than what is right must take the most blame!!

    • Badger culling may be a solution but the way it’s being carried out and the way it was carried out in the past prove it’s not being done right and that any relief it offers is only temporary but it can also cause increased incidence numbers.

  15. Thanks for highlighting this to the public. We are shut down with t.b aswell. Testing 600+ cattle every 60 days. Such a waste of time and money! Keep strong my friend.

  16. Very upsetting to read that piece, I really can’t imagine how that must feel.
    I do wonder though about the amount of animals that are bred for slaughter. No-one seems to get upset about that, even though it is just as horrific.
    Maybe, just maybe this TB thing is nature’s way of telling us not to breed and slaughter so many animals ?
    I sympathise with farmers who are losing income but I put a large percentage of blame at the door of the supermarkets who promote mass production of meat. Ultimately, if we all stopped shopping at supermarkets and expecting cheap meat, maybe things would be different ?
    And, is there any bullet proof evidence that badgers are culprits in spreading this disease? It seems all a bit shaky from where I’m watching

    • I agree, these same animals that the farmer is so ‘sad’ about, will all eventually be sent to be slaughtered, which will be far more traumatic and frightening for them than having it done at home, will the farmer be so sad then? No,as long as he gets a good price, the animal is forgotten as soon as the money is in his hand..just saying, oh and I was reared on a farm!

      • You are right Gwyneth, some of these animals are grown to their full potential for the production of meat for human consumption. That is the reality of our society as it is. I take enormous pride in the animals I breed and own, and to have that life unjustly cut short when I am powerless to protect them against this disease is unacceptable. It is not just a financial consideration. My priority is always animal welfare.

  17. God bless all farmers…….all winds and weathers your animals come first……if only all humans did the same!

  18. Although this is very sad it’s so very touching and uplifting to read something so caring from a farmer. Most I know would not care about having to put animals down (even their own).
    Lorraine x

    • if this is true lorraine, the farmers you know shouldn’t be farming. i hope that in actual fact they do care but are just not showing you how the really feel as a way of putting up a front to hide their emotions xx

  19. Ok they aren’t part of the family he referred to them as ‘beef’. They are a business. He didn’t spend much time with that boy before his end. He’s asking for badgers to be shot instead of his animals, because otherwise he’s killing his before he actually wants them dead. When he can’t make money out of them.

    • The bull had been on the farm for 9 years. I don’t know about you, but I think that I would be pretty attached to an animal after caring for it for that length of time. David was obviously upset over the death of the animals, and maybe he just didn’t want to spend much time with the bull on camera knowing what was about to happen. Judging by the behaviour of the bull, it would seem that David had spent a great deal of time working with him over the years. As you rightly point out, it is a business and so money is one factor, but that doesn’t take away from the emotional strain this family have been under. Living on a farm myself, I know how stressful it is during TB testing, and how the thought of getting a clear test is never far from your mind. I would be interested to ask if you live on a farm or have any experience of farming yourself? You seem to have a very cynical view of this particular story. Farming seems to be David’s source of income – since you were so keen to criticise him because he ‘can’t make money out of [the cattle]’ any more, I wonder how you would react if the shoe was one the other foot? What would you say to someone who criticised you for being upset if you were to take a substantial pay cut, or circumstances at your job prevented normal cash flow, putting you and your family under considerable financial strain?

    • quite obviously you don’t know a lot about farming or farmers otherwise you would never have left such a ridiculous comment. the animals you see on that video would not be killed, The first animal you see is a cow with a young calf, therefore a breeding animal that would stay on the farm bringing up her calves until she unable to do so any more. The second was a young heifer, therefore would more than likely have been reared to become breeding stock when she was old enough and again staying on the farm bringing up her own calves until she was unable to do so. and Finally the third ”that boy” his trusted bull that would again stay on the farm as a breeding animal until he couldn’t do it anymore. he would not choose to kill any of these animals, they would only be killed when it was for the animals benefit, eg sickness/ injury. he may not have spent hours on video saying goodbye to ”that boy” but i can guarantee in the days leading up to the murder of his family, his pets he will have said goodbye. did you stop and think for one second before leaving this comment how hard it must have been for him. Farmers spend every single day with their animals, more time than they do with their actual families. so perhaps you need to take a step back and imagine what it would be like if you were having to ok the murder of your brother/sister/daughter or son. i hope now that you have some facts you will be able to re-educate yourself xx

      • You’re not doing yourself any favours. Your practically saying that the lives of these animals are much more important than the lives of their young that will one day go on to produce food. I’m not a vegetarian, nor am I anti-farm but I believe that a mid point needs to be reached where vegetarians understand their views are not going to be pushed on everyone else and farmers also understand that half of their pain is due to the monetary loss.

  20. My god what has our world come to……… my heart is with your family may they hurry with a dignified solution that will help farmer’s not crucifie them!!!!!

  21. I have heard my husband utter these very words of David’s recently. It’s heartbreaking, stressful and if it goes on, it will be the straw that breaks the camels back. and those in the suits don’t care.

  22. I hope some will send this film to brian may and cronnies to show the effect this has on us the British Farming Family. Farming is the biggest job on the face of the earth and I doubt they thank farmers when they have eaten had a drink or even when they put their shoes on . I’m TEMPTED to use stronger words. Gary.

  23. so sorry to hear this it must be heartbreaking, but surely in this day and age they must come up with a vaccination for the cattle surely better than culling all the badgers, which seems to be so hit and miss !!

  24. Hi David, Please don’t give up its people like you that we need to bring the reality of this disease to the public and the utter suffering that farm animals and farming families are are facing everyday. Why do so many people think a bull or a cow etc is worth less than any other animal.

    • I think mainly because the animals affected are only here to serve a purpose of produce for us anyway, as opposed to badgers who inhabited this country long before us.

      • Amy Smith you are a sick sick person! Explain why you wouldnt want sick badgers euthanased? I realy dont understand that! You have made several realy nasty uneducated comments on here! The only positive thing can possibley be said is that at least hopefully the cows didnt suffer which is more than can be said the splutteringly sick badgers you supposedly care so much for – incidently many cows that are slaughtered as positive reactors never had it in the first place. How exactly do you propose to help the sick and contagious wildlife you are so vociferously defend beyond your war of words – you must REALY care about them to to be happier knowing they are going about their business sick, dieing and spreading more disease to their own kind as well as the cattle dieing realy long slow painful deaths – hey thats ok tho cos that happens down hole somewhere and you wont see it 😉

  25. Reblogged this on Coopers Hill Livery and commented:
    Such sadness… having had to make a tough decision last year to put to sleep one of the best horses i have ever owned because of colic, i can understand how this man felt like he was betraying his animals.

  26. I’m afraid I haven’t been brave enough to watch the video yet but I will out of respect of your animals & not to hide from what you are going through. Thanks for sharing this to highlight what many farmers are going through

  27. Dear Farmer
    I empathise with you, have been in your position felt compelled to comment (not anywhere that one who loves these souls would ever in their wildest nightmare’s choose to be; still haunted by my bovine friends demise) I applaud your straightforward, eloquent explanation & respect you very much for sharing your experience.
    Sincere best wishes.

  28. Back in the Good Old days when people were sensible and realise that be what May, Britain has NO true Eco system and man is at the top of the food chain, we didn’t have this problem because we dealt with it, it was possible to cull Badgers without chance of prosecution or tree huggers screaming their heads off, We now have a serious problem with TB in the UK, yes the Badgers carry Bovine TB, Agreed, we cull the cattle, But we don’t cull the Badgers, which is a vicious circle, if we culled all the cattle in an infected area, and then culled all the badgers in that area as well, ( and possibly any Deer if they were found to be infected also ) it Would sort the problem out, BUT it has to be Drastic measures not this mamby pamby approach, it only being dons half heartedly, we did get rid of this problem once, but then let it come back again by soft methods of approach.

    • Agreed this current method is not going to work, but if you could kill all the badgers back then why didn’t you? Because badgers didn’t start the BOVINE TB nightmare, they got it off infected cattle!

  29. I wish i could find words to line your heavy cloud with some silver lining but unfortunatly i cannot, we are dairy farmers ourselves but are lucky enough to have a yearly TB test and touch wood have never had to go through this. I can only begin to imagine how hard it is….its difficult enough to have a downer cow shot but to have a well loved animal that seems to be in 100% good health is just unimaginable. I wish you and your family all the very best for the future and from the bottom of my heart i am so sorry to hear about your losses, esp your much loved ernie who did look rather stunning bless him.
    Maz x

  30. I have to say I feel realy sad at some of the comments left here from people who appear to of watched but not listened at all. I believe there is some footage to be produced of a heavily infected badger roaming farm buildings due to be released – think i saw it mentioned in the southwest badger surveillance group update but have yet to see it – maybe good to get this out too! We feel so sad for you and whlist we have been lucky so far we never feel easy when haveing a tb reading done as i said we dont feel clever we feel lucky! Unfortunately in the farming industry we seem to work with one hand deliberately tied behind our backs!

  31. I’m so sorry for the pointless slaughter of your livestock! I grew up in cheshire and I’ve got friends who’s farms I used to work on , so I understand the heart ache and that your animals are not just numbers on a balance sheet , they have personalities I called my favourite short horn snotty , she always sneezed on me!
    Its a shame people (profits) only care about people cos I’m sure if this strain of tb crossed to people a cure/vacsien would be found!

  32. My heart goes out to you. We have a smallish heard of 58 and every tb test we hold our breaths and cross everything for that perfect test. I was saddened to read your experience, and hope that you do not have to experience this again and wish you well for the future!

  33. Dear David

    Thank you for publicising something tremendously difficult for what I hope will be the greater good awareness can bring. I am so sorry that this tragedy happened to you, your family and your lovely, well raised cows. Despite the terrible sadness of the situation, it gives me hope to see people like you genuinely caring for animals.

    All the very best to you and yours, Nichole

  34. Your posts have moved me to tears. I really feel for you David. Your posts are full of emotion and the video moving and shocking.
    I am a vet and qualified long enough ago to remember the CJD, foot and mouth and now the resurgence and persistence of TB. British farming and its farmers are hammered back, year on year out; it’s one of the reasons I gave up working in that discipline.
    For smaller family run herds the effect of loss of their cattle is unimaginable. People assume it’s just another cow. It’s not. We know it’s not.
    Is this the right way to control the disease? I remain unconvinced…there is nothing more painful than a contiguous cull for disease control; and the positive skin test can’t make it any better.
    Well done you for writing.
    Regards.

  35. The realization really hits when the gate is swung open and that that young bull isn’t going to try walking out through it. The work of a farmer is hard but this is when it really becomes trying. After having the cow who i considered my pet destroyed with suspected TB at the start of this year it’s horrible to see others going through the same. My thoughts are with you and your family. I hope this will change soon. Good luck with your business in whatever path you chose to follow.

  36. Dear David & Family
    May I offer my heartfelt thoughts to you all as you try to deal with the scourge that is TB on your farm.

    Unless you’ve been through this you can’t begin to understand the sadness and desperation of farming families in this situation. Me and my husband HAVE been through it and basically I can’t even put into words how it affected our business and our ability to cope.

    You know in your heart that you have done everything you personally can to keep your cattle tbfree, but that this just isn’t enough nowadays. I can’t see an end to this situation while successive Governments balk at the idea of tackling the disease in wildlife.

    In the meantime cattle like your Ernie, and our Candice, Sabrina & Blackberry continue to get taken before their time. We must have a solution & we must have it NOW.

    It’s time to take TB & it’s effect on the farming community seriously.

    Best wishes to you and all families going through the same nightmare.

  37. I’m reading this after checking my heavily pregnant girls in the dark and rain, they are cozy under trees and oblivious to the threat of tb which hangs over us all. I cannot bring myself to watch the video, I admire you for posting it and hope it brings more awareness. I feel for your loss but a personal story like this may bring some good out of a horrible event.

  38. As a final year vet student wanting to work in farm practice, the frustration with bTB management in this country is all too real. I am sharing this blog as widely as I can, in order to show my non-agriculturally minded friends and acquaintances the devastating effects of bTB and the current testing system, as opposed to the wildlife-friendly news version portrayed by popular media. Good on you for taking the time to write the posts; I hope your next tests are clear.

  39. i hope this message gets through to every person out there who doesn’t agree with culling. I don’t know if the cull will be the answer long term but it must be worth it as an infection control method until a vaccine is available. the sad thing is that when a vaccine is available you can guarantee the cost for it will be bank breaking because every farm will be left with no choice but to use it. I am from a family run farm that has been going for generations. in our local community (which is approximately 60mile radius)
    i know of at least 10 farms that have shut down after getting tb because they couldn’t risk having to watch their pets be killed and piled up on their yards like rubbish and i know of 3 farmers who actually took their own lives after it. i am so thankful that we have been clear up until now and every tb test i pray we are not going to have to go through this. but as the tb infected farms get closer and closer to ours i know that it really is a matter of WHEN we go down not IF. I truly believe the government have done enough harm to the farming community over the years and perhaps its about time all their big bonus’ and pay rises are used to fund the research for a vaccine as a way of making it up to us.

    I really hope this is the last time you have to go through this David xxx

  40. hi , i was told that to eat well cooked meat and tb is not able to withstand heat, that main transfer is in milk. i would also believe the badgers would carry and transfer as wild pigs can do the same… the testing have they been able to refine the accucary as if not i would ask for a retest as well…….. AUstralia did a Btec program 1000s of cattle died in this process including False reactors…….. we are now declared clean because of theis huge cull and waste of cattle as ones that didnt get yarded in remote areas for testing became just culled shot out…………. a terrible waste if human had only to cook the meat well to destroy the disease …..in my opinion.

  41. David my heart goes out to you. My husband and I live on a small holding with beef cattle. We are slowly building up a Charolais herd and have a beautiful young bull who is just so friendly. ALL our cattle are named and we live in an area with surrounding farms shut down with TB. All I can do is pray we keep clear. It is soul destroying to do what you did ~ well done for speaking out for all us farmers. God Bless x Huw & Janice Evans

  42. This is very sad, as is any animal killed unnecessarily but also sensasionalist journalism for a problem which isn’t really a problem, all for the sake of headline grabbing.
    Mr Barton describes the worst experience of his life seeing his cattle shot, the fact that the other cows know what’s happened and what’s about to happen and the blood trail leading into the trailer. Considering his cows experience that every time he sends them for slaughter what I take from this is that it’s alright for them to go through this as long as HE doesn’t have to witness it. He’s a beef farmer…….he rears animals to be eaten.
    The fact is that bTB cannot be caught by humans eaten cooked meat therefore there’s no reason to kill any cattle with TB.
    Cattle tested positive for TB and killed are sold by DEFRA straight into the human food market.
    http://www.nhs.uk/news/2013/07July/Pages/Concerns-raised-about-bovine-TB-infected-meat.aspx
    “She can smell blood and cordite”. Cordite hasn’t been manufactured or used for over 60 years…………more sensasionalist journalism.

  43. Well done for highlighting this awful problem. Does anyone know WHY badger numbers are increasing? Do foxes carry TB and are the wild boar in The Forest of Dean carrying TB?
    I’m lucky enough to have had a smallholding and have always lived in the countryside but I cant afford to eat meat now, nor do I want to eat meat when I dont know know where it has come from, how it was reared or how it was killed. Perhaps hounds should hunt badgers and foxes.

  44. I was so sad to read this blog . I have a small herd of cattle and have recently had our yearly tb test. Fortunately our animals passed but I , as always spent weeks before worrying about it as we have badgers on the farm. I know that badgers are territorial and if the resident ones are ‘clean’ it significantly reduces the likelihood of contracting tb . However badgers , unlike cattle are free to roam , there is always the dread that ‘our’ badgers have roamed and picked up tb. We were fortunate again this year and had no reactors . The relief , as ever is tremendous . We don’t have to go through what this poor farmer and his animals have had to endure . Just eleven and a half months to wait and worry again .

  45. Hi, its terrible that you had to have some of your animals killed because of a positive TB test, and I don’t want to take anything away from that.
    However all the people claiming for a badger cull need to realize there is no scientific evidence supporting a cull. It’s not badger loving scientists or eco freaks taking over its the lack of evidence.
    Also many other animals are carriers of TB, such as domestic cats, and theres as much evidence their to blame as badgers. Yet I don’t hear a cry out for a cat cull.
    I know it’s awful all these magnificent animals being slaughtered for a disease, but a non-scientifically backed cull isn’t the answer.
    I hope your farm can recover and tests negative in future!
    X

  46. I am not in farming and do not claim to have a real understanding of the issues on either side. However, it has come across loud and clear how heartbreaking and soul destroying this situation is. I wish our government would stop messing about and find a proper solution as soon as possible. It may be that a very difficult decision has to be taken to restart culling on a much wider scale, it may be putting everything into developing a vaccination, although time is clearly an issue with this. Whatever the solution, it needs to be done now. Why can’t they look to the areas in the world that have good control of this and learn from them. This is an issue that is not affecting just farmers and objectors to the culling. I want good quality beef for my family. I want to support our local farmers who care for their animals, not just “rear” beef. This man obviously cared for his herd and the emotional distress is difficult to watch. The Tb situation will and is I think pushing prices up and making it harder to afford the best quality beef. So whilst I may not be able to put forward an argument for either side based on a clear understanding, I hope for the sake of all these hard working farmers and innocent animals that an appropriate solution is found soon and this stops.

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