Sunday, December 15, 2013

TB testing on Dartmoor

South West newspaper, the Western Morning News has some interesting columnists and one such is Dartmoor hill farmer, Anton Coaker, - [link] who breeds hardy suckler cattle, high up on the moor.

His herd is under TB restriction.

(Anton is on the left of the picture.)

Never short of comments about how bureaucracy treats his business, this is his latest offering on the process of TB testing scattered moorland suckler cows, just before Christmas.


"Once more, we’re embroiled in gathering over 300 head of cattle from sprawling miles of moorland, to shove them through the race for yet another TB test. The logistics of this operation take a lot more than the 4 days of actual testing, and are not especially welcome just now.

We’ve had to fetch cattle back from places where they were happy, and now they’re busy scalping off the last of the grass about the in-bye. The breeding ewes were forlornly hoping this bite would carry them through until they were all safely tupped- but they’re to be disappointed.

I suppose I should express my thanks to whoever it is organises these things that we had a time-served vet who didn’t miss a beat, and a dry-ish week means we might get stock sorted out again before the place goes completely pear shaped.

If all this were getting rid of TB, I’d happily oblige, but given that I can’t see any hope of things improving, you can imagine I’m a little fed up with the idea. Still, at least the AHVLA –the state vets- are right on the case. With dazzling efficiency, just as we were finishing the main lot of jabs for the 3rd time in this year, a letter arrived explaining at great length how we are in a 12 month interval testing area. The incompetence is jaw-dropping. It’s no wonder TB escalates, if this is how they run their end of things.

Would I do things differently? Well, since you ask, should I awake from this twilight loony land, where up is down, and left is right, and find myself emperor, I would take some steps.

First, and most urgent, I would draw a line across the country where the pox seems to be already in the wildlife, and take draconian steps to ensure that it didn’t continue its march up the M6. Then I’d set about locating and removing the infected wildlife.

This might be by pouring resources into testing their scat, or by buying Bryan Hill a couple of metaphoric pints and asking him to show me how to tell for myself.

While I was at it, I’d want some boffin to come up with a far better test for the cattle. Perhaps a couple of million quid bonus for whoever comes up with the goods would help em focus their minds.

Alpacas and the like would be dragged into the testing regime and put under the same movement rules as cattle with immediate effect. Anyone objecting would be nailed to the wall by their ears, alongside anyone who mentioned the word ‘vaccination’ in the presence of El Presidenti Coaker.

There. I feel better now.
More of Anton's musings can be seen on this link.

We'll post a summary of the latest  TB news next week,  but meanwhile Happy Christmas (and to Anton, whose TB test described above, was clear)
But in the spirit of clearing zTB, he'll have to repeat it all again in 60 days' time.

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