Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Mistake, Mischievious or Misleading?

We have pointed out before on this blog, that the oft quoted 14 million animal movements alleged to be fuelling bovine Tb, is a huge exaggeration. What is 'moving' is paperwork.

When an animal leaves a holding, the owner has to lodge an 'Off' movement notification with the British Cattle movement Service (BCMS) and when the same animal arrives at its destination, the new owner fills in similar paperwork as an 'On' movement. So 2 paper movements = a single animal movement. If the animal is traded via a market then 4 'movements' are generated . One 'Off' farm, one 'On' market, then 'Off' market and 'On' to new premises.

All these paper 'movements' including those to abattoirs, either directly or via a market generate the same data, but as far as the spread of disease is concerned the numbers to slaughter can be discarded. It is the movement of bovines onto another farm, which are of interest in controlling any infectious disease. And the numbers generated by the BCMS show not 14 million of those (as stated in public most recently as the ISG meeting in January by Professor Bourne). Not even 4 million.

The figure of 14 .6 million BCMS attribute to the total 'paper' data generated by all movements, 'On' and 'Off' and including markets and slaughterhouses and showgrounds.

The actual single 'On' movement that matters is of a bovine to another farm, and that figure is somewhat more realistic. 2,718,599.

So the correct figure as far as disease control is concerned for England, Scotland and Wales is 2.7 million. Or a substantially different figure from that expounded by many 'experts' led by the diminutive John Bourne. So a mischievious mistake or a misleading statement? In any event, an unchallenged one which was made to several groups of scientific and political audiences.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Of that 2,718,599, how many of those are Births, which constitute a "movement on"?

Matthew said...

It is our understanding from BCMS (British Cattle Movement Service) that births (and deaths) are counted as such, and not as a movement.

Here is their explanation:

"We do require an ON and OFF movement for each animal when it is moved and both these movements are counted in the total number of movements. So the movement of an animal from farm A (off movement) to B (on movement) is counted as two movements in the total movements of cattle in the UK. If that animal goes through a livestock market it would be four movements "off" farm "on" market "off" market "on" farm or abattoir, and the movement from farm direct to an abattoir would also be two movements one "off" farm and one "on" to the abattoir."
(and four movements if the animal went via a market - ed)

We are asking for the number of calves included in that total. Those traded at under the 42 day cut off for pre movement testing next year, as 'minimal risk'. And Scotland's 510,000 are pre (and post?) movement tested.

Anonymous said...

Movements on and off holdings do not record then umpteen movements between bits of pasture scattered over wide areas.

Pop 'em in the trailer and over to that nice grass a few miles away - no problem, they don't leave my 'custody' and they enjoy a good sniff of their mates from Joe's herd just opver the hedge

Matthew said...

'Umpteen'. Big assumption and no substance. Grasping straws?

12 million of those so called movements are paper. Data and not cattle.

All this muck scraping is a smokescreen, to take emphasis off the disease itself. Keep focussed.

Four of the contributers to this site certainly had no rented 'bits', or blocks of land away from the farm. Their farms are all 'ring fenced' in one block. But between us we've lost nearly 100 head of cattle.
If you're under restriction with bTb, you cannot move any stock alive, and have to purchase feed in.

Our Derbyshire and Staffordshire contributers farm with stone walls which are back fenced with wire to protect them from cattle /sheep and span about 12 feet. In Cornwall and Devon the 'hedges' are in fact high banks some 10 feet wide at the bottom, and they too are protected with a wire 'back fence'. It is practically impossible these days for cattle to reach any stock in the next field. Giraffes they are not.

MOLE said...

Your contributers may not have realised, (having no rented blocks of land) that things have changed considerably from the situation where cattle could just be dumped in a trailer and carted off the rented keep, as implied by the previous 'Anonymous' comment.

Rented annual grass keep must be advised to the BCMS as part of EU compliance with cattle tracing. That attracts the 'On' and 'Off' movement data which the site described. If this is to be bypassed then BCMS can issue a temporary 'Link' to the main holding. To comply with this option, the period of time of occupancy must be stated at the time of application and the land identified.

But, there must be "No access to, or by other cattle to the land" that is linked, even if that means electric back fencing to comply with the 'Link'. This is part of SFP too, so if these conditions are not met, money will be deducted when cattle are inspected.
Likewise if cattle are found on an area NOT registered by any of these methods, fines are imposed.

The only other way to occupy two scattered pieces of land, is for Defra to issue a SOA (Single Occupancy Agreement) to enable farmers to use land away from their holdings. But that too, is issued by Defra or an LVI agent of Defra, based on disease status of the two holdings and security of fencing etc. SOA issue is not automatic and it may be withdrawn if disease status changes within the area.

Hope this helps.