Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Vaccinate badgers - kill cattle.

Vaccination for bTb in badgers may be less than three years away reports Radio 4's Farming Today programme.

But before we all get excited, that is not to say they will be available for use anytime soon. We're heading for 30,000 cattle slaughtered this year as Tb reactors, so three years hence could see almost 100,000 bite the dust before Dithering Deathra get their backside into gear. Their archaic and brutal performance on the drip feed of FMD infection from clapped-out government labs, is still leading to the ritual slaughter of antigen positive animals which have recovered, but show blood antibodies - and this from a site which manufactures vaccine - but for use elsewhere.

And don't mention Bluetongue virus. Now endemic on mainland Europe with in excess of 30,000 farms affected and huge losses in sheep. A vaccine for some serotypes is available and used world wide. Not yet for BTV-8 - at least not from Merial in the UK, or Intervet on the continent. But this is like a multi-strain flu virus, with a base made and tested, just needing the appropriate strain type introduced. But what did we see from our lords and masters ? Initially complete denial that midges (this virus is midge bourne, not contagious animal to animal) could cross the channel at all. And when they did, for almost a week, Deathra adopted the ostrich position, informing the world that the resultant casualties were the result of a single 'foreign' midge, hopping several miles between meals. The only advice available to their 'clients' - as farmers as now quaintly referred to - was to 'curfew animals' inside during times of high midge intensity, and to erect 'sticky midge nets' to catch the beasties.

Defra are still hoping, as did their continental counterparts in 2006, that the winter of 2007 will be cold enough to kill off the disease-carrying midges. As livestock farmers, we live in interesting times, but we digress. Vaccination. Not for BTV but for badgers with endemic Tuberculosis.

Now, as cattle farmers we assume that Deathra (the Department of Environment, Food [from everywhere except Britain] and Rural Affairs) will insist on a similar recording and tracebility pact, to that which is obligatory for cattle.

We expect no less than:

  • A badger medicine book, giving date of treatment, batch numbers and withdrawal times.
  • The administering veterinary surgeon's / lay preacher's tester's signature.
  • A tag to show the beast has been vaccinated, is thus protected from Tb and doesn't need another dose - or does it? Is this to be a one off, or an annual affair?
  • Another tag to identify the marker vaccine of the jab.
  • A passport to track movements of these vaccinated beasts.

    And the beneficial job opportunities for this could be quite lucrative. We could see the introduction of;

  • Badger vaccination crushes.
  • A badger vaccination database- BadVac - with regular updates on the Deathra website.
  • Badger eartags. (Red for vaccination status, yellow for parish / sett of origin?)

    ... and a levy on the Badger Trust to pay for it all? Of course?

    Only kidding Trevor, only kidding.

    Vaccination for cattle won't happen, EU and trading status etc. etc., but vaccination to protect badgers that are still free of bTb, is a good idea. Bring it on.

    furious farmer said...

    So "30,000 cattle slaughtered this year as Tb reactors"

    AND "one in 18 dairy breed cattle and one in 40 beef breed cattle over 6 months of age will die on a farm each year" with "9,254,584 cattle on
    1st June 2006.
    (35.2% dairy breed, 62.4% beef breed)" your 30.000, whilst regrettable, is small fry!

    Source: RADAR cattle book http://tinyurl.com/2s9etv


    Matthew said...

    Your wish is our command, Furious Farmer.
    The point is that the 30,000 tb reactors about which we are apparently 'banging on', are not destined for the abattoir, are mostly in calf and are prematurely slaughtered.

    The restrictions as you quite rightly say, are grim. But that has not stopped farmer's leaders and opportunist vets, from offering a whole lot more - on yours and my behalf, of course. See latest posting.