cull - Badgers blamed for South Cheshire TB outbreak (pic by Natbat)

A Nantwich farmer has issued a stark warning over the deadly TB virus which has caused 70 of his cows to be slaughtered.

Distraught Phil Latham blames badgers for spreading the disease after losing 10 per cent of his herd at Brookhouse Farm in Chorley, Nantwich.

And he revealed how hundreds of other farms in South Cheshire could face stringent TB restrictions, with the virus found across the region in Cholmondeley, Ridley and Audlem.

Dairy farmer Mr Latham, 42, who is set to lose thousands of pounds, has blamed badgers for the outbreak as he breeds a closed herd, which means cows have not been bought in from outside.

“My feeling of utter hopelessness is because I am powerless to do anything at all,” he told Nantwichnews.

“Compensation is below the market value and is set deliberately so to make sure farmers behave more responsibly.

“But I run a closed herd, we don’t buy animals in and haven’t done for 16 years. My neighbours don’t have TB but it is in other places in South Cheshire.

“So the principle risk factor for TB in cattle is badgers, and I think this is what has happened here.

“Apart from selling up, what else can we do?  We’re not allowed to interfere with badger sets. I could increase my bio-security but this would cost a lot of money.

“There are around 100 farms in Cheshire under TB restrictions right now, and it could get worse.

“I’m extremely angry about it, people are pursuing a policy not fit for purpose.”

Mr Latham said the South Cheshire region is now under a one-year testing regime for TB by Defra, which is “about as bad as it gets”.

Each of his cows produces around 8,000 litres of milk a year, at a value of 26p a pint.

“I will lose 10% of my earning capacity, and the Government doesn’t take into account an animals future value when it offers compensation. I don’t want to lay people off but may have to.

“I don’t understand why there are not more angry farmers out there,” he added.

“You are stigmatised if you have TB on your farm, even though it’s completely out of your hands to prevent it. And the voice that is always heard is the one about the need to protect badgers.

“But there has to be a certain lack of sentiment and reality here if we are to control TB in the future.”

Mr Latham has contacted local MP Stephen O’Brien to raise the issue in Parliament.

The Government says it is “committed to a comprehensive and balanced approach to tackling TB” and eradicating the virus, which includes controlled badger culling.

One Comment

  1. I do wish you reporters would get your facts correct – starting with TB is a BACTERIUM – not a VIRUS!

    Then do a bit of your own research – try here:

    http://bovinetb.blogspot.co.uk/?spref=fb

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