In response to the article written by Trevor Lawson from the Badger Trust (WMN, June 5), I had to write in disgust. I ask Mr Lawson: What have I done so wrong?
I am the fourth generation to run our family dairy farm which started at the turn of the 19th century. During those years we have established our own closed herd of cows; we breed entirely from our own livestock, with the exception of purchasing two cows from my uncle when he retired from milk production in the late 1980s.
Until this day, no other livestock has been introduced to our herd of approximately 150 cows. We are passionate about our livestock and the countryside and were among the few to avoid the outbreak of foot and mouth disease and have never had a case of a cow with a TB reaction to any of the routine TB checks that have taken place annually for longer than I have been running our farm.
Mr Lawson, our boundaries are well kept and, because of the demise of the dairy industry where ten years ago there were 14 dairy farms in the Sidbury Valley, East Devon, now there are only three and none of these border our farm.
Can you imagine my shock and horror to discover that on June 6 three of our cows reacted to the TB test and had to be humanely killed immediately, plus, 21 inconclusively confirmed, to be rechecked in 40 days.
It is my understanding that this particular strain of TB is only carried by cows, deer and badgers. I am not a scientist and as the deer population is controlled in our valley, this leads me to believe that this outbreak can only have been introduced by one source, the roaming wild badger.
Mr Lawson, I would never want to see our badger population decimated by either man or TB, but we have to work together. Is there any way that representatives from DEFRA, NFU and the Badger Trust can meet to discuss a positive way forward to deal with this problem?
Over to you Trevor. Another closed herd, now with a bTb problem that if our contributer's experiences are anything to go by, will not go away any time soon. Mike Coles is in there for the duration. Five years, six or longer of 60 day testing and slaughter. And that will continue until the non-bovine source of his problem is taken out of circulation. Or are you going to suggest, as has been suggested to us, that his CTS / BCMS records are 'incomplete' and that Mr. Coles has been engaging in 'moonlighting' cattle with unrecorded movements? We really hope not.....
Letter published in the Western Morning News 19th. June.