CATTLE, BADGERS, TB AND THE ENVIRONMENT

IMG_20140617_091407Two week ago I visited the Royal Three Counties Show, and what I saw was an amazing display of British livestock. I don’t think you would have found better anywhere in the world. That’s quite a statement! But it’s true. We have a livestock industry that is second to none but in true British style we don’t really like to shout about it……to hell with that! How important is our industry? Very.  If I take my own farm… amongst other things I produce high quality beef to the highest welfare standards. In doing so I help to preserve the wonderful natural environment they graze. It has been done like this for generations and that gives us pasture that is very species rich. It benefits invertebrates, birds and mammals alike but without cattle grazing my Cotswold limestone banks and valleys, where would all this be? Cattle are such an important part of the environment maybe it’s time for the so called “eco warriors” to recognise this and get off the ONE species band waggon, (BADGERS) All animals on my farm are important, farmed and wild alike but those that carry TB need to be controlled for the good of all animals not least my cattle. If I can no longer farm cattle because of TB and I cannot control the wildlife reservoir, the cattle will have to go. That’s a huge blow for the natural environment on this farm and some really important features will be lost for ever. That would be a travesty. As we prepare for our next bTB test on July the 15th we are getting buildings ready and working the grazing rotation to have the cattle as close to home as possible. It can be a difficult challenge getting sucker cows and their calves to cooperate with coming in for bTB test at this time of year. It is the most stressful time on the farm for me, the family and more importantly the cattle. 60 day testing comes round very quickly. As I look around my cattle every day I see the ever increasing evidence of badgers and badger setts. Knowing that in this area over 50% are infected with bTB it’s difficult to keep a positive mind as test day looms ever closer.  I’m hoping for a clear test, desperate for a clear test but it could be a totally devastating test. The inability to be able to control wild animals with Btb is very frustrating and seems to me to be completely at odds with all we do to enhance and protect the environment. All I can hope is that common sense will prevail and difficult decisions will be taken to safe-guard our wildlife, countryside and our very important cattle industry. They are all reliant on each other.

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