Saturday, January 30, 2010


For anyone with a thorough knowledge of bTB and the required tea-and-sympathy skills, the NFU are offering three EU funded posts in the SW.
Salary: £27,410 - £33,806
Location: Exeter
Job Type: Contract - 4 years
Source: The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development Europe investing in rural areas. South West bTB Farm Advisory Service (based from the NFU Regional headquarters, Exeter)
The NFU, supported by all farming and related industry organisations, has recently secured funding through the Rural Development Programme England for a four year farm advisory programmes to provide cattle farmers with bespoke Bovine Tuberculosis advice and training in the South West Region.
Being delivered for the industry, by the industry, this initiative will provide practical and technical support, advice and training for trade, supply chain and animal health solutions to all cattle farmers across the South West region affected directly or indirectly by bovine TB. If you want to really help cattle farmers in a 'hands on' and practical way this could be the job for you.
Under the direction of the programme Manager, the service will be delivered by three Advisers who will have a good understanding of Agriculture, Animal Health and the Rural Environment, and be able to "demonstrate an understanding of bTB".

Yup. We understand only too well. Cattle are tested and culled if they react to exposure of m.bovis. Tabular valuation is rubbish if you have spent a lifetime breeding high quality genetics, or if you've purchased expensive bloodlines and they are condemned. There is no appeal. You can't trade, except to approved finishing units, will probably have to shoot calves which you can't sell, and any movements at all have to be licensed by your local AHO - who may, or may not agree to them. Direct slaughter is your only outlet. Your bank may, or may not be sympathetic.

Up to 90 percent of TB breakdowns, both new and ongoing in the SW are down to badgers say AHO risk assessments, but the only 'advice' which can be given to affected farms is 'touch them not'. And possibly a reminder that hidden in the folds of the new Animal Health Bill, are penalties for not keeping 'bio-secure' - whatever that might mean in this context. Hermetically sealed boxes for cows? Shrink wrapped grass?

Update: We understand that key people in various farming organisations have pushed for this initiative, as their telephone lines are busy with farmers asking the same questions. But we are also mindful that our current Minister for (some) Animal's Health, is hell bent on saving cash. Our cash. Compensation cash, (the figure for which in Defra's convoluted accounting system, includes haulage, abattoir costs, valuers and incineration of reactors, but is net of carcase salvage). So while we welcome any support for farmers under herd restrictions, we are very much aware that what may be possible and planned for today, could be completely different tomorrow. And that someones idea of 'bio-security' may have a profound effect on any compensation monies due, however unproven, ineffective, impractical or costly such measures may be. We are also reminded of the words spoken at least twice in our hearing, by the former chief at Woodchester Park's Badger Heaven, Dr. Chris Cheeseman. When asked how to keep badgers and cattle apart, his reply was an unequivocal "You can't. You get rid of your cattle".

We understand that positions will be available in the Midlands and the North as well.

The closing date for the Exeter applications is Monday 15th February 2010 at 4pm, should you feel you have the right skills.


James O Riordan said...

I am very interested in the position. Where can I get an application form?
James O Riordan

Matthew said...

Hi James.
We picked little gem up from the SW newspaper 'Western Morning News' in their situations vacant columns. Sorry, main computer with all the gizmos on for links, is ill, so basic posts only.
You could contact NFU, Exeter. Contractor or supervisor?

Average £30K x three + supervisor x four years wouldn't leave much change out of £0.5m.
And that's 'eradication'?

Watcher said...

Up to 90 percent of herd breakdowns due to badgers? What absolute nonsense! Stuff hundreds of cattle (many of them undetected bTB carriers) in sheds for months on end over winter and you create ideal conditions for the continuing spread of bTB. Improve the test (that means using use gamma interferon,too) ratch up the frequency, catch the rogue farmers and dealers who don't follow the rules, and you'll bring this highly infectious CATTLE disease under control. Stop blaming the badger for your own inadequacies and stubborness. Cattle-to-cattle infection is the problem. It's happening all the time and was highlighted when exported cattle from the southwest hotspots took the disease up north. That wasn't a one-off. It was the norm.

Matthew said...

Been done Watcher. You haven't been paying attention. Doesn't work. See our posts on the futile carnage of William Tait 1970 - 74, and that of the Liam Downie in Ireland in the 1980's.
And what about the increasing spillover into cats and alpacas?

When peer reviewed work shows just how damned inefectious badgers with TB can be, what on earth makes you think they aren't going to share the disease both amongst themselves and to other mammals?

I'm not sure which bit of 'no bought in cattle' you missed (or cattle contact for that matter) but that was the reason we started this site. You've missed the point.

The percentage of cattle breakdowns with their source as 'wildlife, especially badgers', is taken from SW England risk assessments completed by AHOs.
Illustrations you will find on previous postings. They were first shown at the Killarney conference on epidemiology and bTB last year. We don't make them up, and neither do Animal Health vets.

Jim said...

Perhaps Watcher would care to read the information contained in this site, and would then see just how ignorant his/her comments really are.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps they'd like to read some media:

Benefits of *badger* culling not long lasting for reducing *cattle*
TB, says study

Imperial College London - ?2 hours ago?
We know that bTB is transmitted between *cattle* and *badgers*, so the
Randomised *Badger* Culling Trial was set up to find out if culling
*badgers* would help *...


*Badger* cull 'not cost-effective'

Cornish Guardian - ?3 hours ago?
A STUDY which suggests that culling *badgers* is not a cost-effective
way of controlling TB in *cattle* is an "insult to the farming
community", the National *...


*Badger* cull 'not cost-effective' claim

Farmers Guardian - Alistair Driver - ?3 hours ago?
Lead researcher Professor Christl Donelly, of Imperial College London
said: "Although *badger* culling reduced *cattle* TB during the trial
and immediately *...*

*Badger* cull 'not cost-effective' at
controlling TB in *cattle*

South Wales Evening Post - ?3 hours ago?
"What we are proposing is to combine a limited cull of *badgers* with
strict *cattle* control measures within a defined area over a sustained
period. *...*

Culling *badgers* 'not a cost-effective way to
stop TB'

FarmersWeekly - Caroline Stocks - ?4 hours ago?
Culling *badgers* is unlikely to be a cost-effective way of combating TB
in *cattle*, according to latest research into controlling the disease.

TB Could Spread Across Farms In

Mix 96 - ?4 hours ago?
"While we support and welcome the development of vaccines for both
*cattle* and *badgers*, to suggest this is the answer for an industry
being decimated by TB *...*

*Badger* cull 'not cost-effective' at
controlling TB in *cattle*

WalesOnline - ?5 hours ago?
Culling *badgers* is not a cost-effective way of controlling TB in
*cattle*, scientists who studied trials of a cull said today. Reducing
*badger* populations to *...*

*Badger* culls 'not cost-effective'

BBC News - ?12 hours ago?
"We know that it is transmitted between *cattle* and *badgers*, so the
randomised *badger* culling trial was set up to find out if culling
*badgers* would help *...*

*Badger* culls fail to halt *cattle* TB

Scotsman (subscription) - ?13 hours ago?
CULLING *badgers* is not a cost- effective way of controlling TB in
*cattle*, according to experts. A team from the Zoological Society of
London who studied a *...*

*Badger* culls fail to halt spread of *cattle*
tuberculosis, study shows

The Guardian - ?13 hours ago?
Dr Christianne Glossop, the chief veterinary officer for Wales, said:
"What we are proposing is to combine a limited cull of *badgers* with
strict *cattle* *...*

Matthew said...

Anon 1.42
Yup. Seen Christl Donnelly's update.
After 4 years the effect of the RBCT 'culls' dissipated. And?

Thornbury, where a much more comprehensive clearance was undertaken over 6-8 months, saw cattle breakdowns disappear for 12 years, by which time badger numbers had recovered.
Smaller clearances at Hartland and Steeple Lees lasted 5- 6 years before incoming diseased badgers started to cause trouble again.

Of course if a wild animal is removed from an area, others will take its place. Anyone who thinks otherwise should get out more.

And Ms. Donnelly's conclusions on cost, apart from going a way beyond remit, are based on 8 nights cage trapping, very occasionally. Not a policy which bears much scrutiny if one is serious about controlling infectious disease.

Jim said...

Talking of the media, maybe Anon would be interested in what the British Veterinary Association had to say about the Donnelly paper:

"This paper clearly demonstrates that badger culling did have an impact on the incidence of bovine TB in cattle, which is a very positive outcome. The RBCT was undertaken in very specific circumstances and it could be misleading to extrapolate the findings to any future control programme....The report, based on a single trial, concludes that badger culling is not cost-effective, but the cost of TB to farmers and the government is already incredibly high. Investment now could reduce the costs in the much longer term....Bovine TB is devastating both livestock and wildlife and a range of control measures, including targeted badger culling, must be employed if we are to tackle the disease in the long term."

Whose opinion would you rather follow - vets with day-to-day practical experience of TB, or mathematical modellers?

Anonymous said...

Jim asked: "Whose opinion would you rather follow - vets with day-to-day practical experience of TB, or mathematical modellers?"

Mmn well maybe a bit of both - but lets not forget that vets get a fair chunk of their income from farmers - and the farming lobby (not all farmers of course)want badgers killed

Jim said...

Anon 5:08 - I can't see vets saying something just because they thought it was what their farming clients might want. But, in any event: (1) Getting on top of TB is going to do a lot of vets out of a lot of work (constant testing of cattle), so it's not exactly in their own interests to advance the badger culling argument. All the vets I've heard want an end to the (avoidable) slaughter of cattle. The continual round of testing and condemnation of reactors is very demoralising and is driving some out of the profession, or at least out of large animal practice. (2) Farmers I've spoken to only want to see a targeted cull of badgers, i.e. those that have TB. Healthy badgers are welcome on my farm (not least because they keep diseased ones away) even if they wreck my hedgebanks and dig up my fields looking for worms.

Matthew said...

We would agree absolutely with Jim's latest comment. Personally, I have seen two damn good cattle vets go up north, or abroad to avoid the demoralising grind of testing cattle Mondays and Tuesdays, followed by the condemnation of some every Thursday and Friday. The constant grind of this destroys those who try to build good relationships with their farmers.

And this site has always avoided the 'E' word, so loved by the Great Moonbat and his groupies. There is no way we would condone 'extermination' - of anything. But testing and slaughtering cattle every 60 days, while leaving the source of the problem completely untouched is about as crazy as it can get.

Our Matthew down in SE cornwall has managed to achieve a healthy group which is protecting its territory fiercely. Latrines line the top of a hill, right across a pasture, this being the site of an old boundary perhaps. Certainly it is territorial, because while his neighbours are under restriction, our colleague has had a clear test. Why on earth would anyone want to remove that sett?

The only 'boundary' that matters is the presence of disease.

Larry Siebert said...

Chembio Diagnostic Systems, Inc. ( ) has developed a family of novel lateral-flow serological tests for TB for non-human primates (PrimaTB STAT-PAK®), white tail deer, reindeer, and elk (CervidTB STAT-PAK®), cattle (BovidTB STAT-PAK®), badgers (BrockTB STAT-PAK®), camels, llamas, and alpacas (CamelidTB STAT-PAK®) and exotic species such as elephants (ElephantTB STAT-PAK®). These tests are all antibody detection assays that employ unique cocktails of carefully selected recombinant antigens of M. bovis and M. tuberculosis. The tests can use serum, plasma, or whole blood samples and yield a result positive or negative result within 20 minutes.

Matthew said...

Thankyou Mr. Siebert. We have mentioned the Chembio Rapid Stat-Pac test, used in connection with ante mortem TB diagnosis in alpacas.
We think our camelid contributers would say it isn't quite there yet.
Of four positives to this test, which were left on one farm a while to 'monitor' and X-ray before slaughter, two were confirmed with TB, but the other two, if a cause of death was to be given, the examining VO said it would have to be 'gunshot wound to the head'.

Jan Curtis said...

If cows were tested before they left the farm to be sold on through markets or privately, it would stop a lot of TB spreading, perhaps this is too simple, may be when we have killed all the badgers, and realised that it has made no difference, we will start looking at this problem in a sensible way.

Matthew said...

Jan 9.18:
"If cows were tested before they left the farm to be sold on through markets or privately, it would stop a lot of TB spreading,"

In all areas of annual or two year testing, they are tested before they are moved anywhere except direct slaughter, and have been sonce 2006. This was part of an industry package, which Defra reneged on. All cattle from these areas have to have had either a routine test, or if that is timed out, then a charged for Pre movement test before any movement..

".. perhaps this is too simple,"

Yes. Particularly if tested cattle are sentinels of a wider disease base.

".. may be when we have killed all the badgers,"

No one wants that. But the ones carrying and spreading TB? Can you defend their continuing infectivity? And the consequential overspill of this disease which we are now seeing into many other mammals, both wild and domesticated?

jessie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Matthew said...

Spam - previous comment deleted.