Rural voice has to be heard

I HAVE been a dairy farmer most of my life, but during the past 12 years we have lost more than 250 animals that have responded positively to the bTB test, and when we were free of restriction two years ago we sold the milking herd.

When we gave up milk production we moved into beef production, but as we had a number of Friesian heifers of varying ages we now sell privately when they calve.

Recently we had four to sell and when these were tested we were very disappointed as one proved ‘inconclusive’ and has to be retested in 60 days. This means that we are unable to sell the other heifers as the whole herd is now under restriction.

Since then we have had the whole herd routinely tested and have had one positive reactor, which will have to be slaughtered and eight inconclusive.

We were later informed that in addition the eight inconclusive would also have to be slaughtered.

We will now have to have two clear tests before we are free to sell on the open market again.

Recently we had one animal removed and the day after we had eight shot.

When you have reared the animals from birth and attend them daily, it was not what I wanted to see.

Fifty years ago we had one set of badgers on the farm, but now we have four and then we only saw the occasional one at night. However we now have so many badgers that they are unable to find sufficient food and it is not unusual to see them on the farm yard during daylight in search of food.

Many people believe that the badger is an endangered species, but it is not. They first became ‘protected’ in 1973 following the introduction of the Badger Act. At the time the country was virtually clear of any bovine tuberculosis scourge and where there had been bTB outbreak the badger was professionally gassed. Now through ignorance they are running wild and not restricted like our dairy herds.

The rural voice has to be recognised as it is not working at present and what makes it worse is that the impression has been given that farmers don’t like or want them. When rabbits were a pest farmers went to great expense in trapping, ferreting and gassing them, but since the numbers were reduced to probably 10% they are allowed to roam freely and I believe that the same could happen with the badgers.

ERIC HOWELLS Meadow View Llanddewi Velfrey IT IS very nice to watch wildlife programmes on TV, but it only tells you a few of the facts. You have seen dear little badgers popping out of their setts on a summer’s evening. They look so charming – even cuddly.

Before badgers were protected, Britain was TB-free.

Badger numbers have increased tenfold. They used to live happily and healthily in the woods, digging their many chambers and tunnels under the trees. They have now spread out into farmland.

Many farmers have come to grief when a tractor wheel falls through into a badger tunnel. Is the shocking waste of tens of thousands of cattle going to slaughter and acres of land made useless worth the uncontrolled lives of badgers?

And when a farmer loses his cattle he suffers searing emotional trauma, the farm business is compromised.

Farmers have taken their own lives because of the pressure of this stupidity over culling. It is time everyone not connected with rural life left those people who understood the ecology of the natural world to do what they must do.

The badger’s lifestyle is not all that attractive. They snuffle and rootle about for worms and beetles, putting little droplets of fluid from their noses on the grass.

They mark their territory with urine frequently so spreading whatever disease they have to any cattle grazing.

Their favourite food is hedgehog, which they unroll with their great claws to bite into the soft belly.

So please, those people who are fighting against a badger cull, please, please think again and get things in proportion.

No one wants badgers extinct, nor do we want hedgehogs extinct, and it would be lively to hear the skylark and lapwing singing high over our meadows again.

But it is vital that our farmers are given the consideration and respect they deserve for the hard work they do producing our food (in spite of everything and the weather). Without successful farmers we starve and civilization, as we know it, comes to an end.

JOE FOLDER West Williamston

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