Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Data on reactor cattle.

Defra's latest figures -[link] for cattle slaughtered in 2014, shows a slight increase for GB over all the county's records compared with 2013. (32,612 in 2013, compared with 32,858 in 2014)

However, in three counties, Somerset, Gloucestershire and Hereford / Worcester, the drop in reactor cattle was substantial while most other counties in the West region showed increases. Those with the largest fall in reactor cattle slaughtered are the ones where two pilot badger culls have taken place. (The Glos cull crossed the county border into Hereford / Worcs.)

We are aware that to get Defra to produce any figures for these two pilot areas is akin to pulling teeth. And it is only the diligence of the farmers concerned who have published -[link] their early results, that we have an inkling of what is going on.

Comparing figures for 2013 with 2014, Defra data - [link] indicates that the total number of bTB reactors slaughtered in the Western region of the UK fell from 17,822 (2013) to 17,017 (2014), a fall of 4.5%. But the variation in counties is considerable, with increases in Avon (18.1% increase), Cornwall (6.8% increase), Devon (12.6% increase), Wilts (16.3% increase). Warwickshire showed an increase of 66.5%.

There was a drop in reactors in Dorset (17% fall) but Gloucestershire recorded a 28.9% fall, Hereford and Worcs 28.5% fall and Somerset a 34% fall.

Over the same period the number of bTB reactors slaughtered in Wales - the land of intensive cattle measures (IAA) and vaccination of badgers - has increased from 6012 in 2013 to 6379 in 2014, a rise of 6.1%.

Now any drop in TB incidence or reactors will be attributed by the Badgerists to bio-garbage and stricter cattle controls; or, in the case of the Lib Dims, you may add floods. But it may be prudent to point out that the measures mentioned, if not the Ark on the Somerset Levels, applied to all counties.

The only event which was different from the other counties, was, in the case of Somerset, Gloucester and Hereford Worcester, the population reduction badgers within a small area of those counties and over several weeks.

 And as our PQ's a decade ago, explained about the effect of  Thornbury's badger removal;

"The fundamental difference between the Thornbury area and other areas [] where bovine tuberculosis was a problem, was the systematic removal of badgers from the Thornbury area. No other species was similarly removed. No other contemporaneous change was identified that could have accounted for the reduction in TB incidence within the area" [157949]  

Especially when neighbouring counties recorded increases in dead cattle.

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