There is an alternative

Tuesday 21st August 2012 10:00 pm

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As a dairy herdsman, I have managed some of the most productive and disease-free herds in areas as diverse as Saudi Arabia, Norway, Wales and the South West of England.

Although farms exist against a background of foxes, badgers, rabbits, deer and small rodents – all potential carriers of harm – too few British farmers manage to prevent the infection of their stock.

The overriding factors for success are good husbandry and attention to detail to promote health and hygiene in order to stifle disease.

Standing water readily harbours malignancy. Cattle in the UK rely on water troughs that are rarely cleaned out, even after the winter period when the troughs have been stagnating.

In the springtime, when cattle go out to grass, they are expected to quaff a cocktail of dead birds, rodents and the inevitable bacteria-ridden sludge at the bottom of the tank.

Badgers, too, use the troughs and so add their own spittle to the brew. We are then surprised when cattle contract TB and we blame the badgers. It would not be difficult to make troughs completely badger proof.

A rigorously controlled experiment of two dozen farms within an area high in TB, in which hygiene and water management was strictly enforced and inspected, would quickly establish whether the badgers or the farmer were to blame.

The culling of badgers and slaughtering livestock, expensive and almost certainly ineffective, might be averted.

I believe that we must pursue sound husbandry practice within our agricultural industry. This not only promotes efficiency but continues an uninterrupted supply of food into what may be a shortfall in the foreseeable future.

Steve Jones


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