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Why a badger cull won't work by herdsman Steve Jones

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: October 06, 2012

speaking out:   Former dairy herd manager, Steve Jones. Inset; Jan Rowe.

speaking out: Former dairy herd manager, Steve Jones. Inset; Jan Rowe.

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STEVE Jones, who has 35 years of experience managing cattle, he now lives in The Pludds:

"I LIVE in the beautiful Forest of Dean overlooking the Wye Valley. I am right in the heart of the pilot badger cull zone.

"I do not believe that a badger cull will have any effect on the incidence rate of bovine TB; other than it could make it a lot worse. I have worked in the organic livestock industry as well as commercial dairying in the UK and around the globe, in locations as diverse as Scandinavia and Saudi Arabia.

"Some of the herds I have managed have been the most highly productive and disease-resistant in the world. Good sound animal husbandry coupled with bio-security is the forerunner to success to stifle disease. I have never had a bTB outbreak on any of the herds under my control.

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"Why are so many cows reacting positive to bTB? Tuberculosis in humans is a disease of poverty. Likewise bTB is a disease of impoverishment, brought about, in the main, by the low price a farmer receives for the end product, milk or meat. The dairy sector is the most affected by this as the cost of production is barely covered by the price paid by supermarkets and milk processors.

"The knock-on effect is sub-standard care for the animals. This degradation of the milk price has a direct correlation to the advance of bTB.

"Our national herd has a shameful 22 per cent incidence of lameness. Animals suffering from that or mastitis are more likely to suffer from other infections such as bTB.

"Once a farm becomes cash- strapped, hoof care is often neglected and the cows outgrow their beds. Larger cows have insufficient room to lie down. Cows' stress levels increase and they become more infection prone. We need to consider disease resistance in our cattle by breeding cows that have a greater tolerance to infection.

"Should we be culling cows that show a tolerance to bTB and yet do not go on to develop the full-blown symptoms?

"If a farm falls under a bTB outbreak the situation becomes worse. Infected cows can spread the disease when they breathe or cough. The tuberculin bacterium has been found to exist in stagnant water. This begs the question of just which species of animal is infecting the other.

"Cattle water troughs are rarely, if ever, cleaned out. In the winter time when cattle are in the barns for several months the water troughs, once frequented by slobbering cows, become a water source for the eco system.

"They often have dead birds and rodents rotting in them, (they carry TB too). They become a drinking font for foxes, deer and badgers. This water is warmed by the spring sunshine and soon turns into a petri dish of life threatening infection. On one glorious spring day, the cows are turned out to grass; they are expected to drink this water and they do. There is probably not a more efficient way of spreading the tuberculin bacterium than this, except maybe than injecting TB direct into a lung.

"We need to put water troughs out of the reach of badgers, as much for their sake as for the cows."

Not all farmers agree with Mr Jones.

National Farmers' Union representative in Gloucestershire, Jan Rowe has defended badger culls.

"We know a well-done badger cull will work as there's a lot of evidence to back it up," he said.

"The Randomised Badger Culling Trial in 2000 clearly demonstrated a 30 to 40 per cent reduction in bovine TB which is still persisting.

"And the proposed cull area will be much bigger and the boundaries designed to be much stronger, such as motorways and rivers."

Mr Rowe added: "The spread of this disease is not down to poor animal husbandry.

"It doesn't matter how good your farming or what the economics are – it's not about how you farm, but where you farm. You'll only get this persistent recurrent TB where you have cattle living next to a wildlife reservoir of this disease, which happens in the south west.

"In the east of the country they can manage TB, purely because they don't have diseased badgers."

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  • Caz123  |  October 09 2012, 10:15AM

    I notice you are using my words and others now, you really are beginning to make me angry. I don't claim to know everything, I am trying to turn this around before time runs out for our badgers, personally, I don't give a damn what you think. And it is with great restraint, I am writing this because otherwise you wouldn't get to read it. I know what I have been to doing for two weeks, and i know its a hell of a lot more than, people like you. All that has happened now, is I,m back wasting my time with you, so make your next comment as good as you possibly can, i allow you now to have the last word, Our badgers need our help, now and I really don't know where the likes of you comes into it all, not even the farmers would tolerate you, I'm sure. But if at any point, you want to join in, with us ,for the right reasons and help us, then you are welcome. Sorry for assuming there's an 'us', its terminology only, I really have got to much on my plate, to really be getting so involved, but the more you uncover, the more wrong it is. Stevenmichael, she thinks your comments are rubbish, because that is mostly what i posted on the guardian yesterday, your great comments from here, and made all aware who you are and stated prior, these are not my comments, copy and pasted only. Right got some other things to do now all badger related!

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  • 2ladybugs  |  October 09 2012, 9:24AM

    Funny Caz123, you are not doing too well with your rubbish comments in the Guardian either..........are you??? You claim in there that you seem to be the only one who knows it all. Still never mind keep digging. Don't listen to what the recent scientific research is coming up with to try and prevent badgers being killed in the future. Don't listen to what people are trying to do to stop ALL badgers being killed. You just keep ploughing on stirring up trouble when all around you are trying to find a solution. Are you proud of yourself???? Good.

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  • Caz123  |  October 09 2012, 1:42AM

    2ladybugs Your not even close to being halfway to positive. Stop hampering things, if you can't be bothered to offer help and solutions. Your research and knowledge of things you think you know, is dismal, if you can't find out these things yourself, well I for one am not going to tell you any more. If you are a stooge then you have meddled enough, you oh TB free one are also part of our future, so, join us, you are not going to make us back down, end off, but as I said to someone else which will hopefully say everything I need to, your vision for our world, if we were to give you complete control, is not one, I would wish to live in! Be positive, surely you know deep down our current methods of doing things, cannot go on, surely! Every snide remark re our wildlife and death brought on by us, hurts us just as much if not more than our farmers losing lifestock, I'll no doubt get beratted for that last comment, but i tell you now, for me money doesn't come into it when its any creatures life at stake especially when our native species is losing out to the illusion and worthlessness that money is becoming, but that's a whole other issue. Money is pretty worthless now and we are victims to the whims of powerful elite who can pull the plug whenever they like, and have to power over how much money is printed. It used to be backed by gold, but what is your £10 worth now, apparently £10 promise. By all means if you can find some more answers that would be great, let me know.What makes it ok, for you to do that, I wouldn't go on a farmers page now with the attitude I had at the beginning, now I go on, because I feel them and us talking may be the only way to resolve this since there is nothing encouraging coming from our government. This has been my whole life for two weeks, because I along with plenty others are trying are damdest to make sure this travesty does not happen. I don't understand you, even some of the farmers on farmers weekly were more open to poss solutions than you!

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  • Caz123  |  October 09 2012, 1:09AM

    Steven michael The guardian and telegraph comment pages could do with your help, on the guardian, a couple of us are trying to steer things to more positive solutions, alternatives to culling of anything, rather than biting to one or two and chasing our tails. But like I say, the majority of us aren't farmers, we have no idea about how much a farmer needs to be paid for his milk to encourage him to have small herds, maybe even mixed, which will mean more care for each animal, keeping on tops of tests ect. A lot of us and whoever reads, would be willing to pile on pressure to these supermarkets to demand the right price for our farmers, they haven't got a choice now, its their duty! Do you have any idea what a good starting price is which is realistic and economically viable? I'm off to bed now, but will check back tomorrow!

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  • Caz123  |  October 09 2012, 12:59AM

    stevenmichaels another great comment I am not a farmer, I am an organic gardener, actually I think I'm too organic for organic gardening, I can't kill anything, not the slugs that ruin my lettuces, not the leather jacket grubs that help ruin my vegetables, I move them to another part of the garden and as long as slugs get fed, they get some composty stuff, thats were they stay. But the only similarity in our work is, I think we have, is the realization that things need to change and indeed feel like we are close, but its also a frightening time, because if we fail now, when all evidence is in our favour, when will the next time be and at what cost. I am really feeling a sense of panic and worry because we are not being acknowledged especially when we have mountains of information from past trials which have shown this is a bad idea, not to mention, the respected names associated with this who have spoke out against this, and still nothing. I've just finished writing my 4th letter to david cameron, this one was the most difficult, because it wasn't angry, those are easy, I bared my soul as an animal lover and tried to use words and scenarios close to his own life about how this is effecting us, and what our reality on this is as individuals, this is how you (not you) are making us feel, It was very uncomfortable, i've been so used to keeping emotions in check! Usually as a result of a lifetime of derision where animals are concerned, believe me, it isn't a choice, but my love of animals is inherent and sometimes it feels like a curse, to have to live and honor this because my conscience wouldn't allow anything else. Our wildlife is persecuted enough, they need as many voices as they can get. My life as is yours is animals. Only you had a much better business plan than me:) I think the sooner we can get ourselves back to being a self-sufficient nation, with a 'holistic' approach the better, its a daunting task though, but more and more people are thinking this way, but even if we didn't have this current situation, there needs to be a realization within all industries, even gardening and agriculture, that this really cannot go on much longer and i truly feel this could be the only opportunity available. I am also a believer in the greater concsciousness, and I know we all will realize this need eventually, I just hope its not too late. The things you are saying are wonderful to hear from a farmer, but you would think it would be self evident to others, and certainly not as difficult ,as it seems to be to get across. We need to stop exploiting, stop any intensive industry, stop destructive mass production before it stops us. Mother nature is groaning under the strain! Nature and animals have things much more sussed than we ever will, wild animals instinctively know to keep numbers in check. Unlike us, but even that I think is changing, I'm kicking 40yrs and I have no plans to have kids or have had any, I don't feel anythings missing, prefer animals anyway, but quite a few of my friends don't plan on kids and the fact we are bursting at the seems in GB, just cements it, and is the right thing to do, but again, lets hope we are not too late. I found quite a good site the other day named Transition Town , most towns have a group, it seems a good concept, we'll see, I'll give it ago. But it is worth a look for anyone interested in the future and wants to start planning now for the realities, of our future eg alternative energy source, self sufficiency, what happens when oil runs out, ect ect Have you had any joy with any farmers? I don't think I have, to be a honest I'm a bit frightened to go and have a look on their page, because, me on my own, i'm woefully ill equipped, can only churn out facts, which I used to think, was all that matters and people listen to fact!! Haven't I got a head full of white mice!!! You are probably on a hiding to nothing with one or 2 on here

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  • stevenmichael  |  October 08 2012, 9:16PM

    These articles that expound a theory, such as the one that I have put forward, always seem to get bogged down in finite arguments over things that are not always related to the original topic. Its time to stand back and look at the holistic view of what I have said. We are at the cusp of change in the way that we produce our food in this country and throughout the world. Just as we are on a steep learning curve in the way that we produce our energy. In between these two necessities, we live our lives. Some people believe we should give up milk and meat altogether; others that we should eat meat, as a right, for we are at the top of the food chain and have dominance over the way we produce food and supremacy over the environment; I would have myself belong to neither of these. If we give up milk and meat altogether then we miss an opportunity to relate with our environment in respect of rearing animals in a humane way and making use of the most productive crop on earth….Grass! If we have to ignore animal welfare; destroy our wildlife and run roughshod over our environment, then I for one will be hanging up my milking stool and I'll start eating vegie burgers and drinking soya milk.

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  • stevenmichael  |  October 08 2012, 9:10PM

    These articles that expound a theory, such as the one that I have put forward, always seem to get bogged down in finite arguments over things that are not always related to the original topic. Its time to stand back and look at the holistic view of what I have said. We are at the cusp of change in the way that we produce our food in this country and throughout the world. Just as we are on a steep learning curve in the way that we produce our energy. In between these two necessities, we live our lives. Some people believe we should give up milk and meat altogether; others that we should eat meat, as a right, for we are at the top of the food chain and have dominance over the way we produce food and supremacy over the environment; I would have myself belong to neither of these. If we give up milk and meat altogether then we miss an opportunity to relate with our environment in respect of rearing animals in a humane way and making use of the most productive crop on earth….Grass! If we have to ignore animal welfare; destroy our wildlife and run roughshod over our environment, then I for one will be hanging up my milking stool and I'll start eating vegie burgers and drinking soya milk. These articles that expound a theory, such as the one that I have put forward, always seem to get bogged down in finite arguments over things that are not always related to the original topic. Its time to stand back and look at the holistic view of what I have said. We are at the cusp of change in the way that we produce our food in this country and throughout the world. Just as we are on a steep learning curve in the way that we produce our energy. In between these two necessities, we live our lives. Some people believe we should give up milk and meat altogether; others that we should eat meat, as a right, for we are at the top of the food chain and have dominance over the way we produce food and supremacy over the environment; I would have myself belong to neither of these. If we give up milk and meat altogether then we miss an opportunity to relate with our environment in respect of rearing animals in a humane way and making use of the most productive crop on earth….Grass! If we have to ignore animal welfare; destroy our wildlife and run roughshod over our environment, then I for one will be hanging up my milking stool and I'll start eating vegie burgers and drinking soya milk. v

    |   5
  • GlosResident1  |  October 08 2012, 9:06PM

    This avenue has been tested in exactly England's landscape because it has previously been done in England.It was far from a success and hence I say the science does not support it. Neither the Krebs report nor the RBCT led to scientific evidence that culling badgers makes any meaningful contribution to reducing bTB. The Krebs report in particular concluded that vaccination is the only long term solution to the disease in wildlife. Lord Krebs recently came out to confirm that this remains his opinion. If culling had not previously been investigated, or indeed had it been successful, then I would be in favour. THe fact is this is not the case and, as such, the proposed cull is just meaningless slaughter without a purpose. That I can not support. And whilst all this is going on this government has drastically cut funding on the continued development of oral based vaccines in badgers. An effective vaccination does exist and the plug has been all but pulled at the final hurdle. The cull is just an excuse to save money by making the farmers pay for an ineffective remedy so they can say they tried to tackle the problem whilst all the while they are actually hampering credible efforts to do so.

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  • 2ladybugs  |  October 08 2012, 4:54PM

    or even 'landscape'

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  • 2ladybugs  |  October 08 2012, 4:53PM

    So what you are saying is that trial testing badgers to see whether they are healthy and free of TB or diseased and would be best put out of their misery is not worth bothering about? It wouldn't matter where these trials were held whether it is Ireland or Badger World. Judging by comments on many media sites people wouldn't be quite so perturbed if sick badgers were being culled rather than sick and healthy being culled. ALL avenues need to be tested. These tests have got nothing whatsoever to do with population density or ladnscape or anything else. The tests are just emulating those that are carried out on cows. Nothing more.

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