Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Beef Farmer blocks Cull

BBC reports that a farmer who has beef cattle with a positive reaction to the intradermal skin will not allow Defra to slaughter them.

Margaret Booton of Lower Snead Farm, near Worcester said that she would not cooperate with Defra. She criticised the skin test, pointing out that two years ago, 4 heavily pregnant cows slaughtered in similar circumstances had turned out 'to be healthy'.

We have said many times on this blog, that the skin test is the best we have.

It is used all over the world, recognised as the 'gold standard' by the OIE (Office of International Epizootics) and gives no problem to any other country - except the UK, where a maintenance reservoir in wildlife is giving a constant drip feed of exposure.

It does not show clinical tuberculosis.

It flags up exposure to mycobacterium bovis, as an immune response from an animal that has had contact with it.

Eight cattle out the herd of 100 are affected this time, and the farm would have been issued with a 'standstill' order. A Defra TB 2 form, 'Prohibiting the Movement of Bovine Animals', except for direct slaughter.

Mrs. Booton said " We have to be sure that these animals have got Tb before we would consider letting them go and I'm certainly not convinced". Another owner of some of these Reactor cattle on the same farm has asked the courts to inform her of any application that is made to remove her cows for slaughter.

A Defra spokesman commented that when used as a herd screening test the intradermal skin test is "designed to maximise identification of unifected animals at an accuracy of 99.9 percent. whilst retaining good identification of infected animals at an accuracy of 77 percent (individual animal) to 95 percent (herd screen)".

Worcester's SVS said it was " Unable to discuss individual cases, but that if animals were found to have a reaction to the skin test they needed to be removed from the farm. Papers are sent out and a valuation arranged."

The statement ended "There are legal steps that can be taken to ensure removal of animals".

One might also wish that 'Legal steps were taken' to prevent bTb infection reaching those cattle in the first place. But from our post below you will see that CVO Debbie Reynolds has the situation in hand, with pre movement test and a flat rate valuation. Would it be churlish to point out, - with the greatest respect of course - that Margaret Booton's concern is not for the size of the Defra cheque, but the premature slaughter of her animals?

Report: see here.

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