Thursday, April 27, 2006

Wildlife Unit field staff - sacked.

Anyone hoping that our wonderfully 'responsible' Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs would take its responsibilities seriously and use the expertise of its highly trained staff to control an extremely pathogenic (grade 3 on a scale of 1 to 4), invariably fatal zoonosis for which Defra and Defra alone has responsibility, will be disappointed to hear that considerable redundancies are forecast among the Wildlife Unit fieldstaff.

Rumours circulated in February, and early March we understand that many staff were offered cash in lieu of notice. Over 100 operatives are involved, many with up to 20 years experience of field work with badgers, and considerable expertise in the habits of sick ones. How to recognise a vibrant and healthy sett etc. (Or even - we kid you not - how to recognise a badger sett, and not confuse it with rabbit holes or a fox's earth - many of which were happily mapped by Chris Cheeseman's rosy cheeked graduates in the early days of Krebs. Well it was a 'hole' - what did you expect? But the down side of their reigned in exuberance was that we had 3 single hole 'hospital setts' which were completely missed by the mappers, and their very sick occupants left to wreak their havoc for several years.)

"The cost of sacking the wildlife officers, some of whom have been with the department for more than 20 years, has been put at between £2 million and £3 million and is covered in a story by the Western Morning News "

The redundancies have been attacked as an attempt by ministers to shift responsibility for the handling of the bovine TB crisis on to farmers while allowing Defra to meet Treasury budget targets. ... comments on the story:

" It continues to amaze that we hear nothing at all from DEFRA about the technology that can make real progress in the eradication of bovine TB in wildlife. Is there no one with any scientific or veterinary knowledge able to talk to the policy makers? Policy, it appears, must always be driven by bureaucracy and budgets instead of by (sound-ed) science, technology and veterinary skill. And more and more is it to be paid for by the hapless farmers.

The government does not really want an untargetted mass cull of badgers - fearing, as it did not in 2001, a horrified urban outcry. (Farmers don't want that either. It is only the shrill shrieks of the diminutive professor Bourne, echoed by the sound of rattling money boxes from the Badger Trusts and RSPCA that are flagging it up, based on the 'results' not of culling badgers in the Krebs' RBCT, but of stirring up the social groups and dispersing the whole goddamned lot of them over a very wide area.)

When will the government recognise that the tools to avoid such a politically unpopular, ethically questionable and scientifically unnecessary move are ready and available?An article in the Veterinary Times back in 2004 concluded that the attraction of using rapid real-time PCR is that it may be "accurate enough to distinguish the TB status of individual badgers within a sett. If a half hour test can reveal this, then the targeted cull of badgers that we propose might be refined even further. " While the research below using UK built rapid RT-PCR diagnosis in badger setts and latrines shows that we have now, at this moment, the technology that can show which badgers are infected. "we would prefer that culling is targeted at diseased and infectious animals" said the researchers - and this would indeed be possible. See also bovine TB page and the abstract of the Warwick RT-PCR work in the Royal Society "Biology Letters" in March this year."

The technology is there. It's been there for years. It's British. It's trialled and proven to work. But for every real-time PCR machine specifically targetting any disease problem - a quasi-scientist / researcher loses his job. No more trials = no more cash. Simple really.

And as we said, do turkeys vote for Christmas? The Defra Wildlife unit staff, whose wide ranging expertise backed with this stunning technology ( which can target any bacteria where they occur, could have delivered a closely targetted cull to comply with Bern convention, public sensitivities and the taxpayer - are under notice to quit. The Flat Earth society has spoken.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Krebs - A study in badger dispersal?

In our post below, we quoted from a Wildlife operative's submission to the EFRA committee which described his experiences trying to catch badgers for the Krebs RBCT, and he warns observers not to take any Krebs results seriously.

The whole basis of Krebs was to compare methods of ..... errr, culling badgers.
And it appears that on that basic premise the trials failed, so what of any conclusions drawn from this trial in 'peturbation'?

A letter printed in this week's Veterinary Record from Dr. John Gallagher and others follows:

TB policy and the badger culling trials.

With reference to last weeks letter (Bourne et al. 2006 ) from the Independent Scientific Group on TB (ISG ) we feel the catastrophic problems surrounding the current TB policy are such that this requires a response.
The raison d’etre for the formation of this Group was to carry out the badger culling trials as recommended by Krebs (1997). Despite the huge logistical difficulties encountered and problems with animal rights activist interference, intimidation and lack of cooperation compromising its efficacy, it is understandable that the ISG wish to defend the findings of their trial.

However, DEFRA staff carried out the trapping as determined by the ISG and it is DEFRA which admitted that the overall trapping efficiency was remarkably poor at between 20 and 60 per cent (DEFRA 2005). The consequential social disruption and dispersal of infected badgers was found to have been very considerable . Thus these trials have been so badly compromised that extreme caution is required in their interpretation.

It is unfortunate that the ISG have disregarded earlier work on this subject but understandable as to admit the veracity of this work would have made the Krebs culling trials unnecessary. But it is folly not to heed such work as it was carried out to more exacting standards with regard to culling efficiency, being virtually 100 per cent in both the Thornbury and Steeple Leaze trials and over 80 percent in the East Offaly Trial and Hartland clearance (Gallagher et al 2006). The ISG’s trial was envisaged as a culling trial but as a result of the many problems encountered it turned out to be virtually a study of disruption and dispersal of badgers.

Based on many years of practical experience of tuberculous disease in cattle and badgers and its control we disagree with the ISG over their conclusions based on their trials and their recommendations for future control of TB in cattle. The ISG should be aware that TB has been eradicated from cattle in 23 of the 25 Member States of the European Community by test and slaughter. It was almost eradicated in this Country in 1986 when only 84 confirmed outbreaks were recorded before effective strategic culling of infected badgers ceased. Only Britain and Ireland have a problem and Ireland is making encouraging progress in tackling theirs. Whilst the huge carnage of cattle taken as TB reactors continues it is quite irrational for the ISG to assert that cattle to cattle transmission is the real problem.

We can assure this Group that until the badger maintenance host is effectively dealt with TB in cattle will not be controlled and certainly never eradicated.

This is also the agreed opinion of over 420 veterinarians mostly from the problem areas in the South West, South Wales and Sussex and dealing on farm with this problem. Considering there are now only about one thousand veterinarians in farm animal practice this represents a considerable body of informed opinion. These views were expressed in a jointly signed letter to the Secretary of State for DEFRA in February and June 2005. We consider that this problem is too serious to be put off track by views based on a trial with highly questionable results.
J. Gallagher
R.H. Muirhead

Dr. Gallagher refers to Defra observations of the number of badgers caught in the Krebs triplets as "remarkably poor, at from 20% to 60%". It is our understanding that this figure is calculated using the amount of land available to the RBCT, and John Bourne has said that as much as 50% of that was 'unavailable' in some areas. Whether that included the RBCT's own 'exclusions', i.e farms already under Tb restriction at the start of the 'trial' or just land whose owners refused access, we do not know. Neither do we know if the Defra figure factored in the RBCT trapping efficacy as described in Parliamentary Questions:

8th Dec 2003: Column 218W
Mr. Paterson. To ask the Secretary of State for Environment,Food and Rural Affairs in how many cases badger traps laid by or on behalf of the Department in the TB culling trial have been interfered with or removed without authorisation. [141971]
Mr. Bradshaw. Interference with badger traps laid in the Randomised Culling Trial is variable between operations. It is usually quite geographically localised and repetitive within a culling operational area. Management records indicate that - over 116 culling operations, across 19 trial areas, between December 1998 and October 2003 , during which 15,666 traps were sited - there were 8,981 individual occasions where the trap was interfered with, and 1,827 individual cull sites when a trap was removed.

We make that 57% opened or trashed, and 12% went AWOL altogether.
So out of a 100% cage traps set, 69% were unavailable to catch anything at all. And we suspect that this figure was attributable to in some cases on only 50% of land available and mapped in the RBCT, some of whose boundaries changed over the time of the 'trial'.

Amazing stuff this 'science'. You couldn't make it up.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Fern - Positive for Tb on post mortem.

Western Morning News the story yesterday:


"A post-mortem examination on a calf at the centre of a bovine TB testing row has confirmed the animal did have the disease, it emerged yesterday. Sheilagh Kremers had battled to prevent her nine-month pedigree bull calf Fern, from falling victim to the Government's strategy for controlling TB in cattle.

However, 63-year-old Mrs Kremers' battle ended last week when Fern was slaughtered in the stall at her New Park Farm in East Ogwell, near Newton Abbot. (see post below) Now the State Veterinary Service (SVS) has released details of the post-mortem that was carried out on the calf. A spokesman for SVS said the results had "confirmed the accuracy of the diagnostic skin test, by showing clearly visible pathological signs of bovine tuberculosis".
He said the examination showed the presence of visible lesions, typical of the presence of the disease. Tissue samples from the carcass have been sent to the Veterinary Laboratories Agency to confirm the strain of infection.

"If left alive, this animal would, in time, have been likely to suffer typical signs of disease such as emaciation, weakness, breathing difficulties and, probably, premature death," said the spokesman.

"Bovine TB is a highly progressive, chronic disease which worsens with time. It is essential that animals reacting to the diagnostic skin test are removed and slaughtered at the earliest opportunity."By delaying slaughter, infected animals pose a significantly greater risk of spreading TB among other animals in the herd, to neighbouring farms and wildlife."

Couldn't agree more. Leave a hotspot of infection and it will only get worse.
So why exempt badgers from this disease description? Arhh, sorry, we forgot. Badgers don't suffer do they, and of course they don't transmit bTb to cattle either do they . . . silly me.

I wonder where 'Fern' picked it up from?

Shelaigh Kremers will now be served a notice requiring her to 'cleanse and disinfect every part of the premises occupied by the reactor animal', in this case Fern, with an 'approved disinfectant' . This to include his drinking and feeding equipment, disposal of his bedding and disinfection of walls and floors of his 'premises'. Quite right.

But compare this to action on an infected badger sett;

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

...or just a comedy?

In our post below, , we pointed out a couple of extraordinary gaffs which were lurking in a recent paper submitted to 'Nature' the headline of which - if nothing else - is being widely quoted. A comment on the post reminded us that "badgers had been factored into the predictions" and for that at least we should be grateful. Or should we?

The Veterinary Times (April 10th) prints a letter from which we quote:

"When you are writing a scientific paper, the title is most important because it is all that most people will read".

So what do we make of the flyer on the cover of 'Nature' which asserts: " Bovine tuberculosis - Cattle Movements spread Disease" ?

The author the letter has not picked up on the sentence which we printed below re. the start date of BCMS mandatory registrations, but he has explored much more of the badgery data. And very interesting (weak?) it is too.

He says: "The paper is in fact a 6 page letter that reports on the statistical comparison of cattle movements against a number of other possible 'risk' factors described as "environmental, demographic, agricultural and climatic parameters".

Among these other risk factors, I could find no trace of any really 'fruity' predictors, like the observed presence of badgers in the farmyard, dead badgers in grazing fields, maize crop fields sited so that badgers were crossing grazing fields in early autumn, or even operations likely to disturb badgers, such as a national programme of tree felling on railway lines. Indeed apart from cattle movements, I could find no clear definition of any risk factor."

"The letter is surprisingly coy about specifying what the risk factors it compared were. "

The author explains that the information he required, is not available with the original 'letter' but as a supplementary addendum. And yes, as a 'predicter', badgers were mentioned, but not diseased badgers, and not on a comparable time scale to the BCMS data.

"The considerable datbase, built up by the SVS (State Veterinary Service) during the two decades prior to 1998, of locations where diseased badgers had been found was not mentioned; all I could find was the following remarkable statement:

"Badgers. Detailed information about badger distribution in Great Britain has not been possible to obtain".

" Information published in summary form for 1988 and 1997 was unavailable because the original data was collected by volunteers on the strict understanding that it remain confidential. Alternative, freely available data, are at best, patchy. The geographically most complete source from the Countryside Information System contains 1km resolution information on badger distribution from the Mammal Society, the Biological Records Centre and the British Deer Society surveys between 1965 and 1990. Even when aggregated to 10km. these records are unlikely to provide a very realistic representation of actual distribution" (Too goddam right - Amateur 'guessimates' from 1965 compared with BCMS data 2000 - 2003?? And they call this science? - you couldn't make it up. - ed)

The letter's author is more polite, "In other words, the only badger data entered into the analysis were of dubious value and covered a period between 1965 and 1990. By contrast the Cattle Movement data used in the statistical analyses covered the years 2000 - 2003"

"The elegant statistical analysis therefore compared worthless and irrelevant data from a 25 year period with extremely detailed and reliable data from a 4 year period - a decade later."

Describing the paper's authors as engaging in 'statistical gymnastics', the author also points out that even when a purchased animal proves to be the only reactor in a herd, this is still classed as a 'herd breakdown', as there is no other box to tick on SVS forms. "This is misleading. In any meaningful use of the term (breakdown) the disclosure of a purchased animal as a reactor, when no other animals in the herd react, either at the disclosing test or subsequently, is not a herd breakdown. "

He concludes "I am no statistician, but I am confident in asserting that no valid conclusions can be drawn from this 'statistical excercise' as to the relevant significance of cattle movements and the uncontrolled disease in a protected badger population".

Andrew J. Proud. BVSc, DVSM, MRCVS

We agree.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

End of the line for 'Fern'.

Last Friday, 7th April 'Mous'el Fern', the little Dexter calf at the centre of Shelaigh Kremer's fight against the bureaucracy, arrogance and downright stupidity of Defra's one sided 'fight' against bTb, - which seems to involve killing off as many of the country's cattle as possible, without looking out of their respective boxes at wildlife - finally reached the end of (his) road.

Western Morning News reports:

"The tiny bull looked up at the young woman expectantly, as if she might be about to give him a treat - she stroked him and slowly lifted the thing that looked like a gun to his head.
"Phut!" The tiny bull's big wide innocent eyes rolled heavenwards, he grunted once, and it was all over.

So ended the saga of Fern, the ninth-month-old Dexter bull calf, which had tested positively as a reactor to TB. A small crowd had gathered to witness his passing: government vets who appeared to look somewhat apologetic about the whole thing; press photographers whose flash bulbs cast an eerie strobe as the diminutive bovine keeled over; even a BBC camerawoman who said: "They won't use it, but I'm going to film it anyway."

Just about the only person with a key interest in the whole debacle who wasn't there was the bull-calf's owner, Sheilagh Kremers. She stood at the top of her South Devon field with a face like thunder. Sheilagh couldn't face seeing the death of her beloved bull.

Britain's best known TB protester went on to say she wouldn't accept a penny short of £1,000 as compensation, so when valuer Derek Biss, from Greenslade, Taylor, Hunt eventually gave her a price of £2,100 after inspecting Fern and the rest of the herd, an almost imperceptible expression of puzzlement flitted across Sheilagh's face. With a sigh that spoke a million words about wearied inevitability, the retired schoolteacher looked at no one in particular and said: "Yes, do it."

"All I want to do is enjoy my retirement," said the woman who first fell in love with animals when she was teaching special-needs children in a London school. "My dream was to come somewhere like this and live the good life. But the good life has turned into a nightmare. I can't live with this - they (the state vets) will come every 60 days to test the rest of my cattle and my heart is going to be in my mouth every time. Is it Daisy this time, or is it Buttercup?"

In another section, Western Morning News explains:

"A four-month battle to spare the valuable calf at the centre of a bovine TB testing row ended yesterday with his slaughter. Fern, a Dexter bull calf, was shot dead with a bolt after his owner Sheilagh Kremers accepted an independent valuation of the animal's worth. She said she had no choice but to sign the form to allow the animal, which had registered positive in a bovine TB test, to be killed. It was the final defeat in her battle to prevent her nine-month pedigree bull from falling victim to the Government's strategy for controlling TB in cattle.

The slaughter was carried out in the stall at New Park Farm in East Ogwell, South Devon where Fern has been isolated from the rest of Mrs Kremer's 12-strong herd of rare-breed Dexters. She did not watch the procedure, which was carried out by a skilled markswoman from the local abattoir, but did witness her pedigree pride and joy being brought lifeless up towards the farm buildings in a tractor trailer.

Mrs Kremers, who is 63, now has to wait for several days for the results of a post-mortem which will establish whether Fern actually had TB.She said: "I just think it is absolutely horrendous, outrageous. If they had a test that could prove he had TB I would be in agreement that he had to go, but this test doesn't prove it."He may have tested positive because he is immune to it, and if we kill our immune cattle we kill our strongest."

I'm not happy that he goes but he has to, according to the rules."

She said the Government's policy on slaughtering all cattle which were shown as "reactors" in TB tests was wrong, because only about 30 per cent testing positive actually proved to have TB. This would only be established with a post-mortem."It is a farce from beginning to end," she said. "This testing and slaughtering isn't stopping the disease at all, in fact it has increased tenfold in ten years."

She will now receive £2,100 from the Government, several times what she had been expecting. However, she says that Fern, who comes from brindled stock, is probably irreplaceable. "At the end of the day I still would rather have him than the cheque," she said." I was hoping it would be less and then I could have turned it down and taken it to court. It is not just about my cattle. Something has to come out of this."Mrs Kremers secured a Government apology that the first test carried out on Fern in December, which was positive, was flawed. However, a second test in early March was also positive, meaning it was only a matter of time before Fern would be destroyed.

Mrs Kremers is urging the Government to cull of badgers, which many farmers believe are the root cause of the explosion of the disease among cattle.

Richard Haddock, chairman of the regional board of the National Farmers' Union, said he applauded what Mrs Kremers had done in refusing to sign the valuation form until she knew what value she would get for her calf. Mr Haddock, who has one of the largest herds in the Westcountry, near Kingswear in South Devon, said: "We would advise every farmer not to sign a valuation form until they know what they are going to get for the animal."

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is deciding whether to go ahead with a badger cull.

A spokesman defended the use of the current bovine TB test. He said: "The skin test has a high degree of accuracy -- 75-95 per cent. It is scientifically, legally and internationally recognised as an effective diagnostic test."

And at least on that bit of this whole shoddy episode, the 'governmennt spokesman' was absolutely right. The skin test shows exposure to m.bovis. A deadly group 3 zoonotic pathogen which has no business being at anywhere at all near either cattle, badgers or anything else which is susceptible, including human beings.

Fern now joins almost 30,000 cattle culled as reactors in the last 12 months. We've said it before and we'll say it again; too many bTb parasites are in a feeding frenzy on this part of the Defra budget to let go. It is a beneficial crisis that is fuelling itself. The use of rt-PCR can and will identify infected areas, whether these are badger sets and latrines or capable of onward transmission from cattle, deer, feral cats or the man-in-the-moon. But will our Minister for Fisheries use it? We doubt it. Too many of his 'advisors' would be on the scrap heap if he did.

Oh and the chances are it could identify H5N1 bird flu too - which would save an 8 day wait as VLA bugger off for the weekend instead of testing material from that dead Scottish swan.

" Dr Roger Breeze patiently points out below, if the existing technology were used
"we are actually talking about moving Scotland to the head of Europe for about £350,000 "In addition, it would cost perhaps £12,000 a year for new test kits. The RAPID RT-PCR replaces procedures that require high containment laboratories with enormous fixed operating costs. With RT-PCR costs are low because you already have all the other infrastructure and the trained people. And far from waiting for a week for results, you can test accurately for positive infection, pinpoint it, report on it and respond to it within hours.

Exactly. More on this at

Sunday, April 02, 2006

A Comedy of Errors

When the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) was set up in 1996 to record the births, marriages and deaths of all UK cattle in response to EU tracing requirements, little did those of us who have to operate within it realise just how skewed its information would become when let loose on the great and the good of the scientific world.

We have already told you of the '14 million' movements made by GB cattle - which are in fact movement of data relating to a single bovine movement in our post: But not content with this much publicised gaff, the 'ologists of Oxford with a little help from our very own VLA appear to have made another. (only one Matt? !!)

Matthew 1, has been trawling. No, he's not taken up fishing instead of farming - same minister, little point - he was searching the net (fishy terms again) for information on something totally different and came across a piece from 'Nature'. published in 2005.

Cattle movements and bovine tuberculosis in Great Britain
M. Gilbert
1, A. Mitchell2, D. Bourn3, J. Mawdsley2, R. Clifton-Hadley2 and W. Wint3

For 20 years, bovine tuberculosis (BTB) has been spreading in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) and is now endemic in the southwest and parts of central England and in southwest Wales, and occurs sporadically elsewhere. Although its transmission pathways remain poorly understood, (
no they aren't - ed) the disease's distribution was previously modelled statistically by using environmental variables and measures of their seasonality1. Movements of infected animals (that would be all types of 'animals', we hope?) have long been considered a critical factor in the spread of livestock diseases, as reflected in strict import/export regulations, the extensive movement restrictions imposed during the 2001 foot-and-mouth disease outbreak2, 3, the tracing procedures after a new case of BTB has been confirmed and the Government's recently published strategic framework for the sustainable control on BTB4.

Since January 2001 it has been mandatory for stock-keepers in Great Britain to notify the British Cattle Movement Service of all cattle births, movements and deaths5.

Biological Control and Spatial Ecology CP160/12, Université Libre de Bruxelles, avenue F.D. Roosevelt 50, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium
Veterinary Laboratories Agency, Weybridge, New Haw, Addlestone, Surrey KT15 3NB, UK
Environmental Research Group Oxford Limited, PO Box 346, Oxford OX1 3QE, UK
Correspondence to: W. Wint3 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to W.W. (Email:
Received 20 January 2005; Accepted 18 March 2005

Despite the extraordinary pedigrees of those involved with this 'research' - using those 14 million postcards - we would point out, (with the greatest respect of course) that ;

1. BCMS was set up in 1996, (not January 2001.)

2. Since 01/07/1996 (July 1996) all cattle have had to have passports which were issued by BCMS and which accompanied them on any movement, tearoff postcards from which are sent back to BCMS and sometimes generate 4 movements of data, even to an abattoir. And to generate a passport, first one has to register a birth...

3. Cattle identification at this time consisted of a herd number which was both letters and numbers, a 5 digit individual number plus a UK stamp.

4. In January 1998, double tags were made compulsory. A distance readable one (which falls out for a hobby) plus another in the opposite ear, which could be either plastic or metal.

5. On July 1st 2000, all numerical tags were introduced. A 6 figure herd number (no letters) plus UK, and a 6 figure idividual number, or 5 plus a revolving 'check' digit.

And so it has been ever since. No more changes. And animals recorded in that 1996 database, holding passports can now enter the food chain.

It is difficult reading the 'Nature' report to understand that, as the authors state quite authoratively that BCMS database started in 'January 2001'. But by this time Matt 5 had registered 419 cattle births on its non existent database and about the same 'Off' movements. He had no 'On' movements of bought in cattle on the nonexistent database - but was about to celebrate the New Year by going under restriction with bTb, just like Mr. Jones in our post below.

As bTb hits (another) 'closed herd', farmer wants answers...

In the same Welsh newsapaper, The County Times which carried the story of little Emma Jones and her 'exploding' neck glands, described as 'Atypical tuberculosis', (see post below comes the story of a Welsh farmer also seeking answers:

"A CAERSWS farmer has spoken of his shock after two of his closed herd tested positive for TB despite being disease free for 33 years. Brian Jones is angry that despite his closed herd of 112 Holstein Friesians having never come into contact with any other cattle, they have still been infected with TB. Mr Jones believes the problem could be caused by a nearby badger sett as he said badgers also suffer from bovine TB and transmission of the disease between the two species is common.

“If badgers are responsible for the disease infecting my livestock then it stands to reason that unless the TB is also tackled in the sett, my cattle will continue to be infected on a regular basis,” said Mr Jones.“I’m bloody angry, I made a deliberate decision when I started back in 1973 that I would run a closed herd here for the explicit reason that I did not want to buy in any diseased stock,” added Mr Jones.“As a closed herd my livestock do not come into contact with any other cattle, so the question must be asked; how did my cattle become infected with TB?” asked Mr Jones.“If a reservoir of the disease remains active in the wildlife population, it presents a constant danger to livestock. If we are serious about eradicating bovine TB then the disease must be tackled simultaneously in livestock and wildlife,” added Mr Jones.

Gareth Vaughan, Farmers Union of Wales (FUW) President, said: “Farmers are playing their part. Infected livestock have to be isolated immediately before being taken away and destroyed. It’s important that decisive action is taken against diseased badgers.”

No further comment necessary here we feel. Been there, done that and got a heap of dead cattle to show for it. Unless and until the source of Mr. Jones' bTb outbreak is sorted, then his cattle will keep reacting to their 60 day tests. For years. Stressful, expensive and damned unecessary years as they keep having a 'challenge' from a fatal zoonosis which has no place in the environment at all. It didn't fly in with the man-in-the-moon, and if there is no bought in cattle contact...?

Cattle, and particularly cattle from 'closed herds' like Mr. Jones' are the canaries singing the tune that protected the coalminers. That Defra have ignored their message for so long is not just stupid, it is downright reckless and ultimately dangerous.