A disgruntled farmer has slammed his local Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) for failure to supply adequate TB testing hours.
In an anonymous letter to Farmers Guardian, the South Wales farmer said a recent change in policy was having a detrimental effect on what he said was already a ‘massive burden’ on the industry.
He said a refusal to allow staff to attend farms out of hours was playing with the cattle’s natural movement pattern.
“For at least the last 10 years, the APHA has regularly requested to use its own field staff to test herds which were under movement restrictions,” he said.
“Especially those herd tests that were potentially facing on releasing test and in general, the industry has welcomed their professionalism.
“According to the APHA office in Caernarfon which arrange all the appointments, they have recently received strict instructions from the field management team in Carmarthen that field operatives now work in a strict policy of 8.30am to 5.30pm only.
“The animals are being forced to move at a time that is alien to them, making them factious and nervous which will inevitably lead to accidents to staff or the cattle themselves.”
He warned the APHA should be actively encouraging flexible hours to prevent falling milk yields and disrupted farm work, but the APHA said where possible, it tried to stick to normal office hours.
An APHA spokesman said a structured timeframe helped provide the best environment for the test to be carried out ‘accurately, safely and efficiently’.
He added: “APHA in Wales is focussed on providing a consistently high quality service to farmers on behalf of the Welsh Government.”
But the farmer the agency’s decision and said farm staff were becoming irritated when having to present animals for an extra event, instead of allowing flexible testing during morning milking.
“Milk yields are suppressed for days following the test with some individual animals not recovering their predicted performance at all,” he added.
“What is more disappointing is that it seems that the majority of the veterinary and field staff have fought with their own management to overturn this decision.”