This month, Cornish farmer Roland Uglow 'celebrates' an anniversary - one he would rather not have had. He has been under a Tb herd restriction for 6 years without a break. In March 1999, this closed, home bred herd suffered a Tb breakdown, which has relentlessly ground on with no action on the source, for 6 consecutive years. To put that in context, the farm should have had 6 annual herd tests. Testing every 60 days, it has had at least 30, using around 18,000 doses of tuberculin (which Defra are asking vets to use 'judiciously') instead of 3,600. And Roland Uglow has lost 129 head of cattle.
The 'culprit' (or one of them) he found at Christmas. A severely underweight badger, in the last stages of its miserable life had been seen around the farm several times during the summer and it was found comatose and almost dead in December. A post mortem confirmed that it had extensive Tb lesions in lungs, liver and kidneys, the latter of which would have been pumping out 300,000 units of Tb bacteria onto grassland and feed troughs in each 1ml of urine. As only 70 units are needed to infect a cow, (information from Parliamentary Questions (archived) for which we offer grateful thanks to the Minister for Fisheries, 'Rear Admiral' Ben), Roland Uglow's cattle can consider themselves lucky that any survived.
This herd is relatively small, just 100 milking cattle kept on 300 acres of the North Cornish coast. It is our understanding from veterinary pathologists that a 'super excreter' badger in the latter stages of Tb can bring down half a herd on his own, and having lost 129 cows over the 6 years, Roland can vouch for that.
"Wildlife needs controlling" he told Farmers Guardian- 4/3/05 .
"I love nature and all the wildlife around here, and I like healthy badgers. I just don't want to see 5 or 6 of them digging up a small 5 acre field when I'm out here in the dark with a torch, attending a calving heifer".
Roland describes the stress he feels every couple of months, before each test as "getting twitchy and anxious" and concludes "It's a horrible disease. The pro-badger people think we want to kill everything in sight but we don't, we just want healthy badgers . We want it (tuberculosis) controlled".
We've pointed out before on the site, that farmers are keen to eradicate Tb - not eradicate badgers. Single species focus groups are being seriously misinformed by their leaders about the cause and spread of Tb. Home bred herds such as Roland Uglows, who did not 'buy in ' Tb, will continue to go under restriction (or stay there) as the infective load carried by the badger found on his farm spreads, through bite wounding and onward transmission to cubs and siblings.
The cattle who were infected were tested and removed - all 129 of them. What about the deer, farm, feral and domestic cats, dogs walkers and their children? Any or all of whom may have had exposure to the bacteria. And what about the state of this poor badger - or at least the one found and post mortemed - there are likely to be more.
By their absolute denial of the prime role of badgers in the spread of tuberculosis, so called 'conservationists' and 'pro-badger' groups condemn the animal to a miserable, drawn out death and as a result of their 'intervention', the badger will suffer more not less.
Badgers are the 'victims' of their focus groups' success. But its called animal 'welfare'.