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Cattle movements spread TB

category dublin | animal rights | news report author Wednesday June 01, 2005 15:12author by Mother Earth Report this post to the editors

Farmlands all over Ireland are laced with badger snares. The Government Lab in Lucan, Dublin, is a Slaughter House for our indigenous wildlife. Will the Government put an end to the mass slaughter of Badgers now? Or is this something else that the Irish Farmers Association (IFA), the Meat Industry, and the Government will continue to cover up?

NEWS RELEASE: National Federation of Badger Groups

Cattle movements, not badgers, are the best predictors of bovine TB

A paper to be published in Nature on 26 May 2005 [1] has found that cattle movements "substantially and consistently outweigh all other variables" for predicting the presence of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) amongst cattle.

Dr Elaine King, Chief Executive of the National Federation of Badger Groups, said: "After 30 years of blaming badgers for spreading bTB, farmers and vets have to face up to the reality that farming itself is to blame for the massive escalation in the disease and its spread all over the country. Until DEFRA gets a grip on cattle movements, bTB will continue to cost tax payers a fortune in needless compensation payments every year.

"The movement of TB-infected livestock was allowed by MAFF in the wake of foot and mouth disease. The farming unions claimed credit for MAFF's catastrophic decision. As a result, bovine TB has spread to every veterinary division in England and to previously unaffected parts of Wales and Scotland.

"Badgers, deer and other wildlife may yet be shown to play a minor role, but the current scientific evidence confirms that DEFRA's new strategy to clamp down on the movement of cattle is going to be effective in controlling bovine TB, provided the measures are properly enforced. Farmers and a minority of vets should stop opposing those measures immediately."

The research, by Dr William Wint and colleagues at Oxford University's Environmental Research Group, looked at more than 60 possible predictors of TB and statistically narrowed the field to 20 predictors. Dr Wint has told the NFBG that:

"Cattle movement substantially and consistently outweighs all other variables in predictive power. The prediction is for the presence as opposed to spread or incidence - of bTB. The key parameter is cattle movement into a location from an area that has recently been infected. Movement is important at the national scale and for areas outside what might be termed the 'core' bTB areas.

"For the core areas, where bTB is widespread, movement remains a significant predictor in most but not all years and it is not as dominant in its influence as it is elsewhere. This is probably because movement levels don't vary enough at the local scale to be useful predictors. But we are confident that movement plays a role in the core areas."

Dr Wint says that further time and analysis would allow his team to "home in" on the different kinds of cattle movement involved in bTB spread. He speculates that the length of time an animal spends at a location may also be a predictive factor, but further research is needed.

The researchers successfully predicted the presence of bTB in previously unaffected areas and Dr Wint warns: "If current trends continue, there may be a risk that bTB will become established in North-east Wales, Cumbria and the Scottish Borders."

Dr Wint used existing data to test the strength of different predictors. Cattle movement consistently came out on top. Other less significant predictors of the presence of bovine TB were:

- the seasonality and timing of climatic variables (particularly relative humidity, rainfall and air temperature); and - vegetation (particularly the percentage of managed grassland).

Interestingly, human population density and an index of badger presence were also predictors, though neither was as consistently significant as cattle movement.


author by donn dilispublication date Wed Jun 01, 2005 15:37author address author phone Report this post to the editors

TB is very serious & not a vote catcher.
and indeed there's an article on this very subject in the archives, i wonder how many badgers have been culled?

author by Cattle farmers are scum.publication date Thu Jun 09, 2005 19:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I wonder do these same farmers feel suicidal as they profit from the meat industry everytime they send their cows off to be slaughtered? Or when they send their male calves to the veal crates? Or when the mothers cry everytime their calves are taken away so they can produce more milk for the dairy industry?
Let them commit suicide!!! Badgers are indigenous to Ireland and England. Cows aren't.


Thu 9 Jun 2005

12:04pm (UK)
Badgers Cull Ruled Out

By Joe Churcher, PA Chief Parliamentary Reporter

An immediate cull of badgers to control the spread of TB in cattle was ruled out by the Government today despite warnings farmers are “suicidal” over the loss of herds.

Animal welfare minister Ben Bradshaw said there was still insufficient evidence that a mass killing would be cost-effective, sustainable or viable.

Mr Bradshaw resisted calls for a cull as he announced that he had approved a first field trial of TB vaccines for badgers and a new study into cattle

His comments came as a new report predicted “dire consequences” for farming in South West England if the problem was not addressed.

The number of cases is rising by 18% a year, with more than 22,000 infected cattle culled last year, the report by the University of Exeter found.

The disease was brought under reasonable control in the 1970s but experts are unclear as to why it is on the increase again, although a ban on culling badgers
has been linked.

Mr Bradshaw, who is the MP for Exeter, welcomed the “excellent” report although he said he had not yet had time to read it in full.

He pointed out that the study had found the economic impact “has not been major” and that “only one farmer who has been affected...has actually left the livestock industry as a result”.

He faced a barrage of calls from MPs from all sides to take urgent action.

Labour’s David Kidney (Stafford) said farmers in his area were “positively suicidal when they see their whole herds destroyed because of bovine TB.

“I have watched bovine TB approach and now take hold in my constituency and I know how frustrating it is that the science is behind us on this but surely the strategy is still too little to satisfy people like those farmers, under that stress, that enough is being done.”

Mr Bradshaw said he accepted that some farmers were upset that a “mass extermination” of badgers had not been announced.

“But no government could do that in the absence of the scientific evidence to support it and very serious work on cost-effectiveness, practicability and sustainability.

“I absolutely understand, I spend a lot of my time meeting and talking to farmers who have been affected by bovine TB, that it is a terrible and very, very distressing experience.”

Faced with calls to implement a cull following a successful trial by the Irish government, Mr Bradshaw pointed out that the policy had not been taken up in

“They have not introduced proactive culling along the lines of those trials because they do not believe such a policy would be viable.

“It did, for example, involve the total extermination of badgers over quite large areas of the country.”

He also attacked hundreds of vets who signed a Tory letter complaining about the Government’s policy, accusing them of failing to offer any alternative.

He told Opposition spokesman Owen Paterson that he had written back asking for practical suggestions “as to what a badger culling policy would actually look like”.

Mr Bradshaw dismissed as “ludicrous” a Tory election pledge to “kill infected badgers”, pointing out that there was no way to tell if a badger had TB until it was dead.

Labour’s Nick Palmer (Broxtowe) joked: “Not for the first time a Conservative policy on rural affairs seems to be ‘if in doubt kill something’.

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