Friday, April 10, 2009

Vaccination - a farmer's reaction

An excellent overview of Benn's latest idea prevarication can be found in the Farmers Weekly this week.

Stephen Carr from East Sussex has suckler cows. A lot of suckler cows. And comments that after almost five years of continuous testing his herd, he has:
.....become the most efficient operator of a cattle crush in the UK, to the point that it feels like an extension of my arms. I can also read a cow ear-tag from 30 yards standing on my head and spot a bump, that might suggest a "positive" reactor, on a cow's neck from half a mile away. But another skill is apparently to be added to the list of my highly-developed TB farming skills. As the full extent of the bovine TB crisis that is sweeping across the UK becomes apparent DEFRA secretary Hilary Benn has announced that farmers may be trained as trappers "to handle and inject" badgers as part of a project to test a TB vaccine.

We gave our reaction to this little gem time waster, splendidly illustrated with Ken Wignall's cartoon, in our posting here. By the way, nobody has explained how trapped, vaccinated badgers are to be marked - yet.

But we digress. This is serious stuff. And Mr. Carr is very serious about his impending leap into the realms of wild animal veterinary practice. After reminding readers of the huge rise in tested, sentinel and slaughtered cattle in 2008, which shows no sign of abating in 2009 and may hit the mid 70,000 annually by 2014, he describes his new found employment camouflage gear thus:
I have already sourced my raccoon hat, suede shirt, trousers and moccasins. Not an evening goes by where I am not to be found crawling through the undergrowth and putting an expert ear to the ground.

And concludes:
Mr Benn, who, despite the science, has turned his face against a badger cull for reasons of adverse public reaction, now describes the injectable vaccine project as "a vital step in the development of an oral vaccine which will be suited for large-scale treatment". This smacks of desperate policy-making on the hoof and of a need to be be seen to be doing something to quieten farmers down..

Describing his new job description, and the veterinary clothing requirement Stephen Carr concludes
"No futile gesture is too much trouble provided it helps get a politician out of a difficulty of his own making."

We couldn't have put it better ourselves.


Anonymous said...


Forgive the rudeness but my vet friend has just asked me:-

QUESTION: “What’s the difference between DEFRA HQ and a re-vaccinated badger?
ANSWER: “the pricks are on the inside!”

He also considers DEFRA’s proposal is so ludicrous that it must be the only way that DEFRA will officially sanction farmers to trap AND KILL badgers in hotspot areas that “show signs” of the disease – resulting in a 100% cull of sick badgers!

Thus proving that the vaccination strategy works!

A nod’s as good as a wink …. !

Peter Brady

Matthew said...

Anon 3.45 SETT.

Like it. Like it a lot! Good one.

Q. What provokes an tuberculosis infected badger to become infectious?
A. Being trapped in a wire cage. Scrabbling and biting the bars to try and escape. Coming face to face with our Trevor, with needle in one hand and large paint brush in t'other.

So, what have we got? A seriously stressed badger, jabbed and whitewashed. We understood 'mutual grooming' was the order of the day? Just because Brock number 965 can't reach to wash the back of his neck, it doesn't follow that his mates won't do it for him. And what if they don't like the colour? Or the new smell?

We're deadly serious here. Put a different smell on a cow, and the rest of the herd will exclude it. Or kill it. Most social group / herd animals are the same.

But not those which inhabit Defra's London windowbox it seems.