A third of Derbyshire farmer Nick Adams' organic Aberdeen Angus cows has had to be destroyed after reacting to a routine Tb test. The 52 strong herd of cattle is effectively 'closed', with pedigree stock bulls which sire calves sold under the 'Crystal Farm Organic' label the only purchases into the herd. When he purchases a new bull, Mr. Adams stresses that it of the highest health status and is quarantined.
"I do not buy cattle in" said Mr. Adams, "and I believe my cattle got Tb from badgers".
The 15 cattle slaughtered were young cows between 3 and 6 years old, and they would have been on the farm for at least another 8 years. Mr. Adams points out that to build up his stock numbers again, after effectively losing a third of his cows will take him about 3 years ( assuming that he has no more reactors) and puts the farm's viability at risk.
In this area of Derbyshire, 6 of Mr. Adam's neighbours are also under Tb restriction. In 1993 just 3 farms were under Tb restriction in the whole of Derbyshire. This has increased to 72. Aware of biosecurity, Mr. Adams has fenced off badger setts on his own land, but is unable to control access from badgers living in nearby gravel pits.
"Defra are aware that there is a problem with Tb infection in badgers" said Mr. Adams, "but there isn't much political will to do anything about it".
"I run an organic farm. I'm an environmentalist and I want to see badgers - but not if they're spreading disease to cattle. Badgers are a protected species. At one time they needed protecting - people used to go 'badger baiting' with dogs which was appalling. But they're not an endangered species now. They are predators, and I've seen a reduction in wildlife. I have some wetland, supporting snipe, curlew and lapwing. I also have leverets, and bumble bees. Badgers prey on all these and their numbers are dropping. "
"If Defra would allow affected groups of farmers to cull badgers under licences, say within a 1km radius for 12 months it would cost the taxpayer nothing."
"Government has to do more to eradicate this disease. The worst thing is that I am utterly powerless. I have to just sit and wait".
"I have to just sit and wait".
Since this was written, Mr. Adams has had another 60 day test and will lose another 3 cows and a calf.
And until action is taken on the maintenance reservoir of Tb in the Brailsford badgers, Mr. Adams and his neighbours will be locked into 60 day tests and more dead cattle.
We are always willing to put the 'other side' on this site, so will quote from the chairman of the South Derbyshire Badger Group, Stephen Grimley:
"It's still not proven that badgers are responsible for causing Tb in cattle"
Really? Nick Adams' cattle got it from the man in the moon then, did they?
"In a sett, 2 badgers can be carrying Tb and the rest might not catch it, yet farmers expect us to believe that badgers can give cows the Tb virus above ground"
Yes we do. And it's not a virus, it's a bacteria - micobacterium bovis - actually. Battersea's Battling Bodacea, the lovely Elaine knows all about the risk to cattle from it in badger pee. Remember, her thesis was done on it.
And a badger with kidney lesions can spread 300,000 units of the stuff in just 1ml of badger pee, can't he Elaine? and this site is most grateful to the delightful Mr. Bradshaw who confirmed in Parliamentary questions that it takes as little as 70 units to infect a cow - even one of Nick Adams lovely organic Aberdeen Anguses.
"There is little political will to do anything about it"
There are more votes in a dead badger than a dead cow Nick....