Quarter of herd could be lost to bovine TB

First published in Rural Focus
Last updated
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DAIRY farmer Paul Gould, who farms near Gillingham in Dorset, is facing the prospect of losing nearly a quarter of his closed dairy herd after the animals reacted positively at his latest routine bovine TB test.

Mr Gould said: “I’ve had 36 reactors, including 31 of my in-calf heifer replacements which were due to calve this year.

“Let’s be clear about this, this means that pregnant cows will be sent for slaughter.

“Our last TB test was last June and we were completely clear.

“We’re a small family farm with 160 British Friesian cows. We’ve been a closed herd for 60 years, which means all the cattle were born and bred on the farm and I don’t want to compromise that by bringing any animals in.

“We have badger setts on the farm and, as far as I’m concerned, there’s only one source of infection that this could have come from.

“Losing all these cows in one go is going to have a serious impact on the business.

“It means we’ll have no replacements at all this year and we’ll lose nearly a quarter of the herd.

“It will probably take us three years or more just to get back to where we are now. It’s devastating and we don’t know what our next TB test in 60 days will bring.”

NFU president Meurig Raymond said: “The terrible situation Paul finds himself in reinforces the need for action to be taken on all fronts to tackle bovine TB.

“He has done everything he possibly can to stop this disease infecting his herd and yet is still facing losing nearly a quarter of his cows because of the infected badgers living in and around the farm.”

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