Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Matthew 'Comes Out' 1 & 2

Where has he been?

Under Tb restriction. (Sorry Ben - did that title grab your attention? It was meant to.)

This site is managed by half a dozen farmers from Cornwall to Carlisle. Most have had their cattle herds under restriction - 2 are still in that position, and 2 reckon they soon will be. We're genuine carrot crunchers - not an 'ology amongst us - that's Richard's department!

'Matthew' 1 moved a herd from Cornwall to the Midlands, sucklers and dairy. It was both pre and post movement tested, and was clear at the routine test a couple of years later. This nucleus was then moved back to Cornwall in September 1992, and joined by a small dairy herd from Derbyshire, which was 'closed' and had had no problems with Tb since accredition in the 1950's. A post movement test in Cornwall was all clear, but 4 neighbours were under restriction.

At the annual test in late 1993, this herd had 2 Reactors and a dozen or more Inconclusives.

The farm had no cattle to cattle contact with neighbours, being in a triangle with woods and a main road as boundaries. There were a few deer, and several 'shared' badger setts with much field damage to crops.

Over the next 18 months the herd had tests every 60 days which revealed a 'drip feed' of Inconclusives with a few being taken as 3x IR. During this time a BRO (Badger Removal Operation) was applied for by MAFF, and although granted, animal activists caused problems for the wildlife operatives and it took a long time to complete. Cages were trashed or removed, and Matthew 1 was shown (by the wildlife team) where a cage had had a badger in it, and been moved to a field gateway, put down, and then removed towards tyre tracks of a 'vehicle' which was not in the ownership of either the team or Matthew. Did we say Tb takeaways? Five farms were under restriction here, and the badgers were moved on. Where did they end up? Your place or mine?

After the BRO was finally completed, all 5 farms went clear within 2 or 3 tests. The farmers tried to keep the infected setts clear for at least 12 months, then slowly allowed badgers to restock, keeping a close eye on their cattle herd tests.

Currently the area is rumbling again, and Matthew 1 has had IR's at the last test. Something is stirring in the woods - and it's not bambi.


Matthew 2 had a herd of British Friesians which was accredited in 1952, and remained clear for the next 45 years. The area had something 'nasty in the woods' and remained on annual testing for some time after the rest of the county was loosened up to a 2/3 year regime. The only cattle bought in were 4 Angus bulls who ran with heifers. The farm sold beef x stores and surplus breeding stock.

At a routine test in the late 1990's the herd had one Reactor - a yearling heifer - and several IR's.

Over the winter the herd tested clear while housed, but went down again after turn out, and spent a second 'term of imprisonment' under restriction. A couple of mangy, thin, smelly and very dead badgers were found in the straw stack, and not only were these buried, but the surrounding bales were burnt.

Again the herd went clear during the winter housing, but SVS vets told Matthew 2 that the chances of keeping clear after turn out were nil. "You are bound to go down again and we can't touch your badgers - there's a moratorium on culling them." While this herd was under Tb restriction, its milk was collected separately from 'clean' farms, as were all the herds under restriction in the area.

What did Dr. Chris Cheeseman say to Cheshire farmers about farming with infected badgers? "You can't' - you get rid of your cattle".

Matthew 2 sold up.

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