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Phil Latham: Haylage done and dusted, but next bTB test looms

Insights

Our first cut of haylage for the year has finally come to an end.

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The weather held up and we managed to cut and bale nearly 49 hectares (120 acres) of haylage and 16ha (40 acres) of hay for the horse market in glorious sunshine without a drop of rain landing on any of it.

 

I am hoping it is good stuff and better than last year’s where we suffered from variable weather conditions, too little wrap and too much soil contamination. Time will tell but our team worked tirelessly to get the bales in the yard before the rooks came to spoil the fun.

 

We baled 16ha (40 acres) of grazing for our dry cows which had got past us at Brook House and the birds were pecking holes in the bales within six hours of being wrapped. I cannot see what the rooks get out of it apart from them watching me turning an angry shade of red at their antics. There is something enormously satisfying about loading the last trailer in the dark despite the dust, flies and fatigue and heading back to the yard to see a well stacked and organised yard full of quality forage and heading to bed, dog tired, knowing it is all done.

 

TB testing

In two weeks we are TB testing again, so we are fixing up the race and bracing ourselves for what we might find. Where once we felt secure, we now feel under siege from TB and it is anyone’s guess as to the outcome.

 

A new mathematical model, which basically ignores the role of badgers, suggests whole herd slaughter might be the only way to reduce infections but with 9,236 holdings OTFW in GB last year that is a lot of cattle and a lot of farmers which would be affected. I cannot understand why we are ignoring a previous model by professor of statistical epidemiology, Christl Donnelly, who suggested while badgers only directly cause 6 per cent of TB, they also contribute indirectly by sowing seeds of reinfection and account for nearly 50 per cent of all TB.

 

Perhaps it is because we are a nation of small animal lovers. As a zoology graduate I can understand this view but we must develop a control system which incorporates culling and vaccination of badgers where appropriate and rebalance our priorities to meet the needs of farming families who rely on a functional control system in order to make good on their investments.

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