Reflecting on 2014

As 2014 comes to a close and we look forward to 2015, I thought I would reflect on the past year. Having completed 5 whole herd bTB tests this year, we finally had a clear test on the 12th December which has given us all a huge boost.

At the beginning of the year my confidence in politicians sorting out a sensible policy for Btb in the UK was pretty low! However, I very much welcomed the 25 year strategy plans announced but alas, it appears there is going to be picking and choosing by the government. By that I mean more movement restrictions, fines for late testing and more red tape to struggle though. However, the one thing that is showing real progress in massively reducing bTB is the pilot wildlife controls in Gloucestershire and Somerset. There is, as yet, no announcement to roll this part of the strategy out across the South West. I and many other Farmers ask the question ‘ Why not?’ ( Could there be a general election coming up?!! ) While politicians and prime ministers dither , more cattle will be slaughtered, more wildlife will become infected and the disease will spread further in to the low risk areas. The job to stop, control and contain this disease will get bigger and I wonder who’s job it will eventually be to clear up this environmental and political mess ….. you have guessed it!…. the farmers of the UK. If there was ever a case to completely de-politicise the policy for disease control of bTB in the UK this has to be it. I will hold those in decision making positions to change this and to choose not to responsible for any more of my cattle to be slaughtered under this policy.

As for the so called animal rights protesters , badgerists ,single species brigade or as I like to call them “The flat earthers” they seem to have one goal and one goal alone, save every badger regardless of any circumstance. My goal is simple, it’s not to save every living bovine or to kill every living badger no, its to get the UK TB free. To benefit not only farmed animals but wild animals too. To have our beautiful countryside free from this dreadful disease. It is achievable, we have indeed done it before, but while we have this ridiculous protected status on badgers which have no natural predators and that were never an endangered species but do carry bTb and can be super execrators of bTb, it is going to be challenging . Politicians will need backbone, have they got it? We shall see… I won’t be holding my breath.

Back in April we posted the video of Ernie being shot on the Farm as part of the Government’s bTB control policy. The purpose of that was to hopefully engage with non-farming members of the public and give an insight in what it’s like living on beef farm with bTB. I hope we have gone some way to achieve this, the many comments and conversations I have had since would suggest so.

We have now finished autumn calving and Ernie has left us with what will be his last calves and they are like all his previous calves, superb.

I will continue to engage with people from both sides of the bTB argument as I believe it’s important to do so. I would encourage many more farmers to do the same as no one else will do it for us.

I wish one and all a very happy, healthy and prosperous ( and bTB free ) new year!

Cows on roots Christmas day 2014
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PLAYING THE GAME OF CHANCE AGAIN THIS WEEK (60 DAY Btb test)

We are half way through our latest 60 day bTB test; we will get the results tomorrow after reading the test.
These test weeks are difficult, the waiting and not knowing. I am always optimistic you have to be but in the back of my mind I’m always preparing myself for the worst. Given the level of wildlife infection in Gloucestershire and our testing history it’s prudent to be prepared. Also that there have been 6 NEW heard breakdowns locally in the last couple of weeks.
The South West TB Advisory Service has recently completed a survey of badger activity in my cattle buildings and feed store, I’m very happy to say that NO badgers were caught on the night vision motion cameras. As some of my cows stay out 10 months of the year this makes biosecurity difficult. Some would say it may be better to keep our cattle inside 24/7 I totally disagree with this utter nonsense , cattle were designed to live outside its healthy and it’s good for the environment, so if we keep our cattle inside and do nothing about badgers and bTB you don’t think other species will suffer from bTB ? This would not be a solution just another fudge it’s time to face up to the problem and do something about it. Many people have strong opinions about this whole Btb debate, how many will be Btb testing this week or any other? And how many have had to have animals slaughtered? Not so many. This must be looked at in the round, no cherry picking.
Will post results on Friday.