After several years operating as a closed herd, Clare Hawes described her first outbreak of bovine TB as one filled with ‘anger, frustration, sadness and despair’.
In the last few weeks, Ms Hawes, who runs 800 beef cattle, with 300 in-calf, has seen a number of her animals condemned for slaughter after testing positive to the blood test, also known as gamma test.
Her farm is in Oakley, Buckinghamshire, classified as the edge area, with cattle tested every year.
She said: “As the whole nightmare has unfolded over the last month, my experience of dealing with the various authorities has been exhausting.
“Endless phone calls to try and contact various departments through only one main number with numerous options, only to end in an answerphone message saying the service is too busy to deal with my call and asking me to leave a message.
“Pages of paperwork endlessly arrive, which is often duplicated or relates to animals which have already been removed from the farm.”
Ms Hawes said the testing itself was ‘fairly shambolic’ with bloods needing to be taken twice as the test itself had ‘failed’.
“Poorly trained staff caused even more stress on heavily in-calf cows, not to mention the time this has all taken when other jobs need to be done at this time of year, said Ms Hawes.
“Thank goodness for our vet who was quick and efficient at the skin testing, and friends who offered to help us out over the six days.
“I am not sure how smaller farms cope. It is a brutal testing regime.”
With farmers losing faith in the tests and how the results were interpreted, she said ‘there was little sign of the disease being controlled, let alone eradicated’.
“At one and five years old, my children are too young at the moment to understand what is happening on-farm but if things continue as they are with the current TB situation, l fear there will be no future for them on our family farm with cattle,” she added.