9:15am Thursday 22nd May 2014
By Rene Gerryts
A WEST Dorset farmer is refusing to let his TB infected cows go to slaughter in Wales.
Kevin Wallbridge, a fourth generation farmer from Hooke, had 14 cows test positive in his dairy herd which now have to be killed.
But when he was told the animals he has reared himself would have to travel nearly 200 miles he told the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency he wasn’t prepared to let them travel so far on welfare grounds.
The agency said farmers could choose to make their own arrangements for slaughter – but would not be paid compensation.
Mr Wallbridge, whose closed herd was first hit by TB in January, said: “I refused to let them go to Wales.
“Some of these cows are seven months in calf or are producing 40 litres of milk a day.
“They have worked hard for us. I think they deserve to go reasonably locally and be slaughtered on the day they leave the farm.”
He said: “They are not going to be slaughtered on the day they go. To me that is not acceptable. I am not going to let them have them.”
His cows were supposed to have gone on May 6 and since refusing his permission he has heard nothing about what will happen to them.
He said: “It is a scandal and it worries me how this organisation is run – it is certainly not for the benefit of the cows.
“This is something that shouldn’t happen.”
A spokesman for the AHVLA said: “Owners are compensated for TB infected cattle slaughtered as a disease control measure. This cost to the taxpayer is partly offset by the value of the carcass, a sum paid by the abattoir, and as AHVLA is required to achieve best value-for-money for the taxpayer, it selects the abattoir which is likely to provide the best financial return, whilst also ensuring that journey times to slaughter strictly adhere to welfare during transport regulations.
“Cattle owners have the option of choosing not to receive compensation and to arrange slaughter privately.
“In such cases the cost of slaughter falls to the owner, but is offset by their retaining any salvage value provided by the carcasses.”
West Dorset NFU secretary, Paul Bennett said the effects of TB were far reaching.
There were not only welfare issues for the animals but their farmers and vets who have to carry out tests, he said.
He said: “The effect of TB in cattle on a farm is not just economic. It puts stress and strain on all those involved. Farmers like Kevin are very concerned about the welfare of their livestock,.
“The current TB policy poses not only potential animal welfare issues; the whole process of TB testing is a very dangerous one. I know of a farmer and a vet in the area who have been badly injured while testing cattle for the disease.”
He said measures farmers were being asked to use were more and more demanding.
He added: “Since 2008, 216,000 cattle have been culled because of TB in Britain. West Dorset, as a prominent cattle farming area, has had many farms affected.
“We urgently need a comprehensive active policy to rid the country of this disease.”
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