Monday, October 10, 2011

'white coat syndrome'

.. is a well known cause of blood pressure when patients visit a doctor's surgery; the sight of pristine, dazzling white attire, guaranteed to cause a flutter in most of us.

So imagine the reaction of cattle, more used to olive green - be that grass, silage or the boss's overalls - faced with the eye catching vision of a man in a white coat advancing.
Like it, they do not. As was found a decade ago during the carnage of FMD.
The picture below, is by Chris Chapman and was taken on a Dartmoor dairy farm in 2001. Even normally placid dairy cows are looking askance at the ghostly figure as they are rounded up to be shot. These cows were sedated. Cattle gathered for inspection and TB testing by AHVLA operatives are not.

Thus for general farm work, AHVLA operatives have always worn dark green or navy disposable overalls. 'Elf and safety being paramount as several tonnes of spooked bovine, attempts to flatten any stranger wearing white.

Or that was how it used to be until the arrival of Defra's new, all singing, all dancing and very streamlined central ordering system. This was designed to give economy of scale, with orders channelled through the Finance section of the regional office. We understand that since FMD, Defra staff are not allowed to use the infamous 'white overalls' in the field. This is partly to avoid media surveillance but mainly to avoid being squashed by freaked out cattle.

But guess what? Our moles tell us that what were delivered by a this new team of desk bound admin clerks (with no idea of the problems faced at the coal face and no remit to listen) were packs of tissue-paper thin, single use overalls. And they were white.

Why are we not surprised?

At blogger HQ, we are more than familiar with Defra's deskbound windowbox solutions to livestock problems, but our co-editor roared with laughter over the white coat scenario.
"Perhaps if they wore the overalls over their heads, at least they wouldn't see what is coming."
... was his erudite comment - while not identifying the 'they'.

As cattle farmers, we tend to call a spade a spade - and suggested the correct interpretation could be for AHVLA operatives to layer their 'never-to-be-used-again after the carnage of FMD', white tissue-paper overalls over the heads of the cattle. Simples.

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