LETTER: Badger culling - Getting the facts right


There are considerably more facts require putting right than those few selected by National Farmers’ Union adviser Andrew Critchlow in his letter on the subject of Bovine TB (Advertiser, August 25).

His emphasis on blaming badgers indicates that he has overlooked the key causes of this man-made problem of the dairy/cattle industry.

Regarding the “current strict testing regime of cattle”, it has been estimated that this test proves unreliable in up to 20 per cent of cases, resulting in infected cattle remaining in herds, being moved or sold, and therefore, in itself, contributes to the spread of Bovine TB.

It is the published view of highly qualified veterinary scientists, Dr Andrew Knight and his colleagues, that artificial insemination depletes the gene pool causing low herd immunity. This, compounded by the use of poor quality feed of negligible vitamin content, overwintering indoors for months (which dries out the lungs, increases susceptibility to illness and facilitates the spread of disease from cattle to cattle), excessive cattle movements (both legal and illegal), desperately poor practise when it comes to bio-security (those sensible precautions mentioned by Mr Critchlow are, sadly, frequently ignored or flouted), irresponsible slurry-spreading (leaving TB bacteria active on the ground for months), plus the very hard life endured by these increasingly over-exploited animals, naturally makes many of them ill.

It is an appalling fact, often conveniently overlooked, that ten times as many cattle go for slaughter due to mastitis, lameness and infertility than are killed due to contracting Bovine TB.

Disappointingly, a “workable vaccine for cattle” seems forever to be “ten years away.”

Repeating the mantra about using “all the tools in the box” doesn’t make it any less senseless to keep reaching for the most widely discredited and most ridiculously useless and cruel “tool”, that of culling badgers, a course of action condemned as “crazy” by Lord Krebs, who spent ten years and £50 million of public money investigating, then rubbishing its efficacy.

In all the circumstances of this unholy mess, it is little wonder that folk are choosing to boycott meat and dairy in their droves just now, opting for a healthy, cruelty-free, conscience-clear vegan diet.

Dave Brock

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