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In Your Field: Phil Latham - 'Our neighbour’s herdsman was fatally injured TB testing cattle'

Phil farms 385ha (950 acres) in Cheshire, split between the family farm on Lord Cholmondeley’s estate and Organsdale Farm near Tarporley. He milks 300 cows, mainly pedigree Brown Swiss, as well as diversifying into business units and an equestrian facility. He is also a Nuffield Scholar.

I am looking at the weather forecast wondering when the best time is to get mowers in to start this year’s haylage crop.

 

Last year we had to consign 60 acres of grass to the dry cows as we never got a weather window to bale it before our September event. Let’s hope this year will be better.

 

The maize is coming on well. We have had glorious sunshine punctuated by the odd short shower and it has shot up. Hopefully it will be well up to knee height before our target date of July 4.

 

Our milk contract is up for renewal at the end of the month and it will be interesting to see what we choose as the right option for the milk to get the best reward from the market in the next period.

 

The good news for us was we had a clear TB test after we failed the previous one. If we go clear next time we will be off restrictions.

 

Our TB status has become a lottery and as a closed herd that has not bought a cow for 23 years, I feel Ican do little more to reduce my risks.

 

It is frustrating to see the knee-jerk outraged response national press journalists have to the government’s consultation on an extension of culling badgers under licence in the low risk areas.

 

Preserving diseased populations of badgers is not conservation, it is rank stupidity. It is pushed by those who have never managed a population of animals.

 

The simple truth is we must reduce the contribution of maintenance hosts if we want to bring the infection rates down.

 

The bad news was our neighbour’s herdsman was fatally injured TB testing their cattle. I am sure all livestock farmers will wince at the news and know that ‘but for the grace of God there goes I’.

 

I am also sure we would all offer our sincere condolences to the family and the team at the farm.

 

It is hard for people outside our industry to understand the issue or consequences of zoonotic TB spreading. There are some pushing a polarised view because it suits membership needs, others are just misinformed, and some are angry vegans.

 

The trouble is there are not enough farmers, cattle vets, scientists or honest conservationists trying to counter their false narrative in the general media.

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