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Farming family watch as TB-hit heifers are taken for slaughter

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: April 16, 2014

Farming family watch as TB-hit heifers are taken for slaughter

Dorset farmer Paul Gould's wife Hazel with their cattle which have contracted TB. Picture: Fran Stothard.

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Condemned cattle from a Westcountry farm hit by bovine TB that recieved a visit from NFU president Meurig Raymond last week have been taken away for slaughter.

Dairy farmer Paul Gould, who was preparing to lead the roll out of the badger cull to Dorset, until the Government failed to back the project, helped load up 31 in-calf heifers on Monday. Another five cows that failed the TB test were taken away yesterday.

Mr Gould’s wife, Hazel, said all the family, include son Andrew and daughter Sarah were on hand to see the 20-month-old heifers taken away.

They were due to give birth to their first calves, replacements for the family’s herd of pedigree British Friesians in August. The Gould’s have run a closed herd at West Stour, near Gillingham, for nearly 50 years. They and their vet believes diseased badgers infected the cattle.

Mrs Gould said: “When the calves were loaded up all the cows rushed up to see what was going on. It was a dreadful sight. When you breed young heifers you don’t expect to have to see them go off for slaughter like this.” Last week Mr Raymond visited to commiserate with the family and stress the NFU continues to press for a roll-out of the cull.

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8 comments

  • mmjames  |  April 18 2014, 12:40PM

    Why would it be only some of the cows if the bull is to blame?

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  • vickysecho  |  April 18 2014, 12:06PM

    31 - 20 month old in-calve heifers and 5 cows - did they test the bull? Seems very disproportionate. How can anyone believe that badgers would be the cause of that?

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  • mmjames  |  April 18 2014, 8:05AM

    Why would a dairy farmer want to slaughter his up and coming herd? Locking cows in barns is now becoming more common to keep the animals away from zoonotic Tuberculosis. Cattle certainly ain't catching it from each other, once locked away from wildlife! Another family's story http://tinyurl.com/oklhq6e Incarcerated, but safe. snip But what of these new dairy cattle in their hermetically sealed, AHVLA approved, badger proofed box unit?: We have made the decision to keep the cows inside this summer where they are safe due to the badger proofing, obviously it will cost us more to feed them but we feel to nervous to turn them out. All in all its been completely hellish and I wouldn't want it to happen to anyone, as well as the heartbreak of losing the cows the cost of it all has been massive.

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  • vickysecho  |  April 18 2014, 12:37AM

    He probably just needed some cash.... it's not like they weren't going to be slaughtered and it's not like they weren't going to get paid. It is absurd to continue trying to point to badgers as the cause of bTB - oh wait maybe it's cats - or maybe it is anything that comes into contact with a cow. Better lock em all up in a barn and hope the rats don't get in.....

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  • mmjames  |  April 17 2014, 4:34PM

    http://tinyurl.com/pxhnxvg On badger vaccination, from Dr. Ueli Zellweger, a Swiss veterinary practitioner with several years of experience dealing with bTB, a short paper entitled " Bovine Tuberculosis, Animal Welfare and the BCG Vaccine." The darkness and sticky air conditions in a badger set is the ideal climate for tuberculosis bacteria to survive for months. Any cub born in a set with TB is likely to get infected in the first few weeks of his shortened and possibly very miserable life. It might be even infected by its own mother. Some will die soon and some will be carrying this Tb infection in latent form until they die. If such an already infected badger is vaccinated with BCG there is the risk that the latent infection opens up with the consequence that this badger is spreading billions of TB bacteria. Where is the animal welfare aspect? Unlike most other common vaccines the BCG vaccine does not stimulate the huge production of specific antibodies. Therefore the BCG vaccine does not prevent an infection; the only thing it does is reducing the risk of a so called bacteriaemia, which means that the risk of TB bacteria being spread via the blood or lymph-flow is reduced ( but not eliminated ). It is highly unlikely that the European Veterinary Commission will ever accept that England is using the BCG vaccine for cattle. Why should they expose all other European countries which had managed to eradicate bovine TB ( bTB ) to the risk of reinfection? Much more likely is sooner than later a total import ban of any English livestock, dairy and beef products. Sure bTB is a matter to be sorted out by veterinary science and not by laymen like politicians and musicians. It is obvious that in this country the way to deal with this very long known disease has utterly failed over the last 10 or even 15 years. There certainly are highly experienced and well respected senior veterinary epidemiologists in Europe. Why not asking one or two of those for advice what to do? It should have happened 10 or more years ago. Finally I am amazed that in all the discussions about bTB, the testing of dairy and beef herds and biosecurity on farmyards the role of pet cats is never mentioned. Cats can carry bTB and being a veterinary surgeon myself I do remember very well the one single cat we had finally sorted out in my home-country some 35 years ago to have infected and reinfected 3 different dairy herds in one bigger hamlet over almost 2 years. To diagnose TB in a cat the usual intra-dermal test is not reliable. The only way to do it is by radiography or by long lasting cultures of dubious excretions. Dr. Ueli Zellweger, MRCVS, GST, GThT We are grateful for Dr. Zellweger's insight. A further comment from virolgist, Dr. Ruth Watkins can be found on http://tinyurl.com/oeug5kl on this link.

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  • mmjames  |  April 17 2014, 4:31PM

    http://tinyurl.com/pxhnxvg snip BCG vaccine for badgers has only applied for, and received what is known as 'Limited Marketing Authority' (LMA) licensing, which means its efficacy was neither shown nor needed to be shown, thus the oft' spoken claim of 74 per cent efficacy should remain moonshine. That 'trial' pre-secreened its badgers, catching 844, but only using 262 - an infection rate of around 43 percent we were told.

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  • BrocksRock  |  April 17 2014, 4:05PM

    male calves aren't usually taken off early for slaughter then? No veal then? Bizarre Get some badger people to test the badgers, so far, all the badgers being tested less than 4% have Tb throughout the country. I dispute their and their vets beliefs.

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  • mmjames  |  April 16 2014, 11:06AM

    So sorry, but you know what you have to do.

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