Does culling badgers reduce bovine TB in cattle?
This question as to whether culling badgers will reduce bTB in cattle is getting rather tired now. If we look at the history of the disease and how we had previously managed to become virtually bTB free, and the various trials including RBCT all show it does work.
Now we have data coming in from both cull areas in Gloucester and Somerset showing a sharp reduction in bTB on farm see document below.
Blowey, Gray, Griffiths, + Rowe, Feb 2015 – Copy
So I was dismayed to read No 3 of the Labour party manifesto 3) Labour will end the ineffective and inhumane badger culls
It is now becoming clear that this is a political game; it’s not so funny if you’re dealing with bTB on farm with the misery it causes, farmers and farming families. It is surly time for the eradication of bTB in the UK to be depoliticised with an independent body. It is so unfair to say that the pilot culls have been inhuman and ineffective when the data clearly show the opposite, and the care and attention to detail to make sure that they are indeed humane. I was made aware this week of a farm which has just had a new bTB outbreak, 2 in calf heifers close to calving will have 21 day in which to calve if they do not then they will be slaughtered. They may be only days from giving birth, is this fair is this humane? I don’t think so, but it is the policy that all political parties follow, the tightening up on bTB testing and cattle movements that’s in reality what it means.
It’s time for a common sense approach to tackle bTB and in doing so not only will we become bTB free in the UK there will be huge cost savings to the treasury see document below.
Potential Cost savings Associated with the Gloucestershire Cull
We had our second clear bTB test last Friday, a huge relief to all of here on the farm. No more testing for 6 months.
It just goes to show that with rigorous testing of cattle we can and do get rid of bTB in the cattle herd. The big problem is currently we are not doing anything to control the source of infection, badgers.
So until we are able to control the source of infection this will sadly be a temporary reprieve for us I hope we stay clear but realistically that will be wishful thinking. I just heard my neighbour has just had 2 reactors after being clear, so the bloody merry-go-round goes on.
Towards the end of last year I found out that six farms locally had had new bTB breakdowns. As readers of this blog will know, I am all too familiar with the misery that news causes.
I want to highlight one case in particular – a young farmer I know who has a small herd of 68 pedigree beef longhorns which he is building up.
It’s great to see someone with the passion and the dedication necessary to make this type of business work. Not only does he rear and finish his longhorns, he also adds value to his produce by selling it to local restaurants and pubs.
Sadly this young farmer was one of the six new bTB breakdowns that occurred at the end of last year. He lost 11 of his pedigree longhorns, including a senior stock bull, a junior stock bull, and his best foundation cow, Isobel, who was suckling a bull calf with great potential among others.
It is difficult to describe what a bitter blow this has been for this young man. It is so hard to see cattle leave the farm to be slaughtered for bTB when you’re trying to build a closed pedigree herd and build a business. The emotional wrench really hits you hard.
What is also sad is that this young man does not want to put his name or the name of his farm to his story because of the fear of intimidation. This is not an unfamiliar situation and is a sad thing to have to say in a free and civilised society – we must have the right to protest legally but we should feel able to speak freely without the fear of intimidation.
It is interesting that during this year’s badger cull the so called animal rights activists said there had not been any intimidation of farmers and residents. The list of incidents released by Gloucestershire Police recently would suggest that wasn’t the case. It was also good to see one of the leading figures in this movement, Jay Tiernan, found in contempt of court for breaching the High Court injunction granted to the NFU to protect farmers and their families from harassment and intimidation and given a six-month prison sentence suspended for two years. I do hope that Gloucestershire Police will take note and take action where it is necessary with this year’s cull.
All of this just strengthens my resolve to make sure we get on top of this dreadful disease. We must have a healthy, living, working countryside which will benefit us all. It’s time to make bTB a thing of the past in our wonderful countryside.