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
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.
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.