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In Your Field: Ian Garnett - 'I would welcome a cattle vaccination for bovine TB, if it was cost-neutral'

March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb, or so the saying goes. Let’s hope the stormy weather early in the month leads us into a more positive and helpful scenario soon.

Routine winter jobs have been the mainstay for us this last month and relentless feeding, milking and bedding keeps us occupied.

 

The pasture land is looking cold and wet. Silage ground happens to be in reasonable order as the late grazing heifers have left us with a grass cover that is not too far forward, allowing a window to apply slurry when things finally dry up.

 

In previous years, the later winter months could leave the cows looking in need of a summer boost. However, this year they look as fresh as when they came in.

 

The investments of more mattresses and auto scrapers may be paying dividends.

 

We heard the news this week that the badger cull is to be phased out in favour of vaccination.

 

At the time of writing, the finer details are to yet to be issued. While I am certainly not an expert, I have a suspicion that if a badger vaccination plan is decided as the way forward, then complications may set in, as annual trapping of wild animals would seem quite a task.

 

However, at herd level I would welcome a simple, additional jab I can administer along with our schedule of routine immunisations so long as it was effective and cost neutral.

 

This way, when a herd has been signed off as having been vaccinated, then perhaps no more than random spot checks could be undertaken to confirm it, rather than the great effort of full six monthly testing for everything.


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Naturally the issue of exporting vaccinated carcases would need clarification beforehand.

 

According to Defra figures, more than 44,000 cattle were slaughtered in the UK due to TB for the 12 months up to the end of November 2019.

 

As most farmers will agree, the loss of cattle is just one of the costs associated with this.

 

Bovine TB brings with it a considerable additional workload and much mental anguish. All this at a time when mental health is considered to be the biggest danger facing the industry according to last month’s report by the Farm Safety Foundation.

 

Finding a workable solution cannot come too soon.

 

At a thoroughly enjoyable Knutsford Young Farmers dinner dance over the weekend, a number of friends took great pleasure in quoting my January weather observations in this magazine, namely that we could be in for a dry start to the year.

 

Mother Nature would seem to be suggesting I should pipe down and get on with a bit more milking.

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