We need to get back to a healthy badger population
I have been reading with interest and anger the letters about TB over the past two weeks.
I assume that badger baiting was the main reason the badger got protected in the first place and yes that would have been right but it went too far.
Do you know that before the badger was protected there were two very small areas in the country that still had TB, one around Hartland in North Devon and the other was in Cornwall.
At the time if a herd of cattle had a TB breakdown the badgers in that small area also got taken out, because I'm afraid they do pass it to each other and if you remove the infected cattle you should also remove the infected badgers.
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I don't know how many of you have been on farms during a TB test but for those under restriction every 60 days every one of the cattle over 6 weeks of age are tested.
This involves every cow going through the crush, on the first day they have their skin measured then have two injections (they know what is coming and are fed up with it too), because of the stress caused the milk produced will be down and often there will be cases of mastitis. Three days later they have to be put through the crush and have their skin measured again. If the lower injection sites have increased in size by more than a certain amount they may have TB and will have to go. In the past five years we have lost more than 100 cows. We are quite lucky. I know farmers who lose 30–40 each test.
I have had family members crying during the second day as we are told which cows are to go.
I have had to tell my son that his favourite cow that he helped to raise from a calf had to go, he was 12 at the time.
The trouble is that there are now so many badgers that thousands will have to be killed and you know what, it is not their fault it's just that it has been left too long for any action to be taken.
There are now so many badgers that they are decimating wildlife.
Eighteen years ago we had three setts on the farm. Skylarks were numerous and numbers were increasing. It was not unusual to see hedgehogs.
Now we have 13 setts. We have badgers living in drain pipes and on top of hedges. On our last RSPB survey they only saw two pairs of Skylarks.
I don't want to see all badgers killed, we used to go out and watch them in the evenings, but we have to get back to a healthy population.
If you talk to a ministry vet they will tell you that abroad if a farm goes down with TB the badgers on that farm also go hence they don't have the problem. The worst bit is that we are dictated to by people who know nothing about farming.
Brian May's worst nightmare will be that the trial will work. His idea also that livestock are not farmed in TB areas will go down very well with the people whose livelihoods depend on farmers. Did you know that each dairy farmer supports 14 other people?