Badger Cull

(161 Posts)
ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 07:33:09

Anyone have any opinions on the badger cull?
Or the protests surrounding them?

TB in cattle is devastating for farmers. I'm not convinced the cull will work but the badger population will survive. If it helps badgers and farners co-exist then it's fine with me. I'm generally not a fan of animal rights protestors.

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 07:47:33

That's essentially how I feel too.
Perhaps as a nation we are slightly sentimental when it comes to badgers?!

And yes about the protestors, I'm not sure that a lot of them fully comprehend the full situation before jumping on the band wagon.

Anybody who's sentimental over badgers has never met one grin

I don't want them to be treated cruelly but a cull isn't cruel per se.

ILoveAFullFridge Tue 27-Aug-13 08:03:51

My brother is a farmer with a science background, committed to green, eco-friendly practices in his work and life, and he believes that it is necessary.

ILoveAFullFridge Tue 27-Aug-13 08:11:27

I have met badgers. They are beautiful, interesting, relatively intelligent animals. Unfortunately human life has interfered with animal life so much that we have damaged the natural balances that kept populations stable. Any population wiuld normally have periods of boom and bust, as the proprtions of prey and predators, famine and plenty, varied. Badgers have virtually no predators any longer to keep their numbers in check.

Badgers are tough creatures and notoriously difficult to kill. At least the cull aims to try and kill them with the minimum if distress to the badger, rather than allowing the disgusting old 'sport' of badger-baiting.

MrsDavidBowie Tue 27-Aug-13 08:16:01

I have no problem with it, as I would have no problem with a fox cull.
I live near Richmond Park, and every year people get up in arms about the deer cull there.

Abra1d Tue 27-Aug-13 08:23:48

So many cows are being put down and it's so sad for the farmers, some of whom have spent generations building up herds. I like badgers but this can't go on.

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 08:25:48


I hope that your brothers farm hasn't been too badly effected by TB.
I agree with you, badgers themselves (while not the friendliest of creatures!) are not the problem exactly. Their population numbers are out of control and the disease is rife.

My main bugbear is that many many people seem to value the life of a badger more than that of the culled cattle...and more than the quality of life of the farmers affected.

lljkk Tue 27-Aug-13 08:26:34

The only scientific analysis concluded that a cull would make the problem worse long-term. I can't see the logic of it.

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 08:30:08

How do you think they would react if they couldn't use the park because there were too many deer and it had become dangerous?! Or if it was declared deer territory, no humans allowed??

I feel quite strongly about it, but didnt want to be inflammatory in my thread title, so I'm pleased that I've found some rational people here. That said, I understand that not everyone feels the same, and that everyone is entitled to their opinion...I just wish that the coverage would be less one sided so that the general public were less misinformed.

I find it so frustrating that the news reporting is tipped so heavily towards the badgers - always pictures of them, never any of the cattle that are put down. In fact I have been corresponding with the RSCPA to try and establish why they value the life of a badger so much above that of a cow.....unsurprisingly they won't give me an answer.

It is hugely emotive and the demonstrators are trying very hard to paint those involved with culling as murderous maniacs whereas in reality no-one wants to see all the badgers killed, it would upset the balance of nature as much as having too many has upset it.

Let's hope a successful vaccine can be found quickly, I think in Ireland they were using a combination of vaccine and culling and felt that it was having some effect as a stop gap whilst they wait for a more reliable vaccine.

hackmum Tue 27-Aug-13 09:28:07

Oh, look, it's like the fracking debate all over again. The badger killers are all scientific and rational, while the antis are irrational and hysterical. Of course.

Then again, you could look at the evidence, or lack thereof. Here's the irrational and unscientific Ben Goldacre on the problems with culling badgers:

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 09:29:25


That is very eloquently put!

It seems to me the BBC is grilling Owen Paterson, but allowing the opposing side to set out their stall with a minimum of fuss!

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 09:31:37


That's the point, there is no more evidence against badger culling than there is for.

But we've tried controlling it in cattle and it's failing. It's a problem that has to be approached, so why not try this?

Here you go with the emotion Hackmum "badger killers" - that is why it's so hard to have a rational debate. Are you happy to have 100's of cattle put down, 100's of farmers losing their livelihoods, and ££££'s spent in compensation? At the same time 100's of badgers are also suffering......

I think everyone agrees that culling is not going to be the definitive answer, but at the moment it is the only way to try and get a grip on this disease whilst a vaccine is worked on. Something has to be done now, what do you suggest?

I'm not keen on fracking, but again it is impossible to have a rational debate - violent demonstrations, threatening and harassing people is not the way to stop something - that, more than anything is what I really don't like about the "antis". Some of the things that have been "promised" by those against the cull are downright violent and give those who do want to protest legally and peacefully a bad name.

comingalongnicely Tue 27-Aug-13 11:27:44

I don't have a problem with it. It's not something that's been entered into lightly, it certainly won't endanger the badger population as a whole as they're massively over populated at the moment.

It'll be interesting to see if Hedgehog numbers get a boost as they're direct victims of badger predation.

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 11:33:38

That hadn't occurred to me comingalongnicely, thatwould be an excellent side effect!

And one that would encourage a little more interest from the general public I reckon. Hedgehogs are cuter even than badgers smile

WhatWillSantaBring Tue 27-Aug-13 12:27:43

It does seem to come down to why a badger's life is valued more highly than a cow's. I presume the shooting of badgers is done at point blank range (i.e. as humanely as it is possible to euthanise any animal) as I heard this morning that they're trapped first - i.e. they're not just relying on marksmen.

Interesting parallels with the debate over managing the fox population. In all the years of the fox-hunting debate (which I don't want to open up here), the need for a human check on the fox population seemed to be accepted by both sides of the lobby, and the pro-ban/anti-hunt lobby argued (sucessfully) for the use of shooting to manage the population as the most humane solution. Yet now it seems that shooting another wild creature is in-humane. I'm genuinely confused.

There are two arguments, really, aren't there. One is over the need for human control over the wild animal population - is it or isn't required. The other is over the methods for doing so.

The hysteria surrounding debate on this (and fracking and hunting) really winds me up! You can't have a rational conversation, and people's views therefore become so polarised, that debate becomes a waste of time. The Daily Mail Radio Show Jeremy Vine had an awful feature yesterday with Clarissa D-W sounding a bit barking and a Labour MP who sounded grossly ill-informed.

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 12:40:01

I'll tell you what polarises my opinion.

Brian May.

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 12:42:55

Yes yes yes WhatWillSantaBring.

And when you consider the economic repercussions of cattle culling, preserving the badger population at its current level seems even less important.

I really really agree with your point re the shooting of foxes.

Brian May is in danger of losing all his credibility as an animal campaigner if this is accurate reporting.....

The musician and animal rights campaigner claimed that the only difference between critics of the charity and child abusers was that in RSPCA cases “the creatures involved are non-human.”

He also warned that implementing a badger cull could ultimately lead to a return of the Dark Age practice of burning supposed witches at the stake.
I personally have never had much time for him on his animal welfare stand, but he certainly knows how to stir things up.

Whatwill - I have been in lengthy email correspondence with the RSPCA to try and establish what it is that badgers have over cattle but they will not answer that. Badgers have a better PR agency, I think to balance it out we need pictures of new born calves wobbling about on their too long legs!

valiumredhead Tue 27-Aug-13 13:52:54

What northern lurker posted!

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 16:59:51

That is so true, we need cute little calves crying out for their dead mummies...!

And then show people the dead cows that don't even have TB...

And then show them the meat that makes it into foodchain regardless...

itsatiggerday Tue 27-Aug-13 17:21:19

Matthew Parris wrote an interesting editorial on Saturday - not actually about badger culling, his point was about the reaction to David Miranda's arrest - but about the arguments people use to try and rationalise their point of view.

His point was that people often provide reasons for their argument but actually they just have a settled opinion so even if their reasons were discredited they would still hold to their view. So in Miranda's case, the protests were all justified with abuse of process etc and he agreed if there had been, it should be dealt with appropriately, but actually the pure left wing opinion is basically that the state shouldn't be able to use any kind of state intervention in the individual on the basis of intelligence / security etc and it would be a more helpful debate to acknowledge the underlying reason.

WRT badger culling, I think the same is true. It's not about the method of culling - how come shooting is good for foxes vs nasty hunting but too cruel for badgers - or about the lack of attention to the cost in the cattle or the human cost to farmers' livelihoods, the protests are based on a settled opinion that humans do not have the right to cause wildlife pain or detriment for our own benefit or convenience. At its purest, adherents will also be vegetarian / vegan and therefore remove the hypocrisy re cattle raised for meat.

The problem for them being actually honest about that is that lots of people who are instinctively squeamish about a badger cull would have more qualms about actually valuing badger welfare the same or higher than human welfare in as many words so there is more popular support if they fudge their reasons.

madaki Tue 27-Aug-13 17:38:10

I have no strong feelings about badgers, if it saves people's livelihoods to cull them in a humane way, I won't protest that decision.

I do have a few queries out of interest though- not sure if anyone can help?
why now?
Has there been a change/reduction of badger predators? (do badgers have predators/ what would they be?)

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 17:57:51

I believe it's because of the number of farms affected, and the cost to the govt.

TB has become more common in cattle since badgers were given protected status (in the 90s?). No one knows for sure if there is a direct correlation, but anecdotal evidence suggests that there is.

It seems that the current badger population is recovered enough to handle this trial.

frogwatcher42 Tue 27-Aug-13 18:04:24

I think its a good thing to do. It is worth a try. Its only a cull - not an extinction.

Its all about balance.

They need to remove the protective status of sparrowhawks too (having had our garden birds decimated by them). Now we have bloody kestrels hanging around the place. Its awful - I just want a garden full of small animals - not the air above dominated by large birds which scare (or kill) all the small animals and birds off! We don't get a decent dawn chorus now - first time in my memory - sad.

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 18:09:46

I didn't know that frog, that's sad. You're right it's about balance.

Balance in nature, balanced research, balanced coverage.

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 18:13:20

BBC coverage seems incredibly emotive to me.

This man says he will stand between a gun and a badger???

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 18:17:31

Hang on, take that back, this is more rational.

Jellykat Tue 27-Aug-13 18:27:47

I am completely against a cull, and live in an area in Wales that was to be the pilot cull area a few years ago.

100s of us campaigned vigorously against it for 2 years, thankfully the Welsh Assembly saw sense and we are now in our 2nd year of a badger vaccination policy. This along with tight cattle controlled measures have greatly reduced TB incidences in cattle. The professionals that vaccinated our badgers only a couple of weeks ago have said every single one they've caught this year, have been healthy with no signs of TB whatsoever.

To all of you saying that the English cull isn't cruel, you are so wrong, they are free shooting, at least when our cull was proposed the badgers were to be trapped and shoot with 1 single shot.. Free shooting has NO guarantee of the first shot being effective, it's disgusting!

There are so many problems that occur with culling, Brian May, David Attenborough, Bill Oddie, Chris Packham and all, are completely on the ball, and a cull is the wrong way to go.

I will just add, Deer, Sheep, Rats and even dogs have been found to carry TB!

Jellykat Tue 27-Aug-13 18:33:17

Oh and good on the man that said he would stand between a badger and a gun, for believing in something so strongly.
I can tell you, i would have done whatever it took to not let it happen on my land!

Rant over smile

cazboldy Tue 27-Aug-13 18:44:16

really pleased to see so many rational opinions on here smile

I agree with northern lurker.

However, more needs to be done - much much more

TB testing of cattle needs to be done much more accurately. The percentage that come back as reactors is very high compared to the percentage of cattle that actually do have it. And they put them down, and restrict the farms anyway.

I can think of nothing more devastating than to lose your favourite cow, with no say over it, and then to find out it never had the disease anyway. And nobody thinks it matters because the gov paid you some paltry compensation that probably doesn't cover what it was worth, and even if it's economically fair - you can't replace that cow!

I think more should be being done to sort a viable, safe vaccine for the cattle themselves too.

I am unsure as to whether a badger cull will work tbh. Am aware of some schools of thought as to whether it will spread infected badgers to other areas.

Have no sympathy with protesters though, that purport to be animal lovers, that are happy to let 1000's of cattle die, and infected badgers infect many other a previous poster said, deer etc - and also domestic pets.

And who want to persecute honest people and landowners who believe they are trying to do the right thing.

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 18:44:37

Perhaps the cull isn't the only answer, but all other options are going to take too long. I know farms that have been shut down for years wait for a vaccine means they will be out of business.

But you're right, there are other things that need to be looked at. Like the type and quality of TB testing.

How does vaccinating an already infected badger help? And how are the badgers tested? It is practically symptomless in cattle, I wonder how it manifests in other creatures? These are genuine queries btw, not trying to wind anyone up.

However, I lack respect for anyone who believes so strongly in animal welfare that they'd risk their own lives. I think that mans priorities are seriously screwed up.

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 18:48:24

Cazboldy, I didn't see your post before my last one...but I agree completely.

You sound like you have direct experience of the testing of cattle. I always think it would be easier to vaccinate the cows...the govt has an I depth and accurate record of where every animal is, and when. How is it logical to try and vaccinate an infinite number of wild animals that could be anywhere?

frogwatcher42 Tue 27-Aug-13 18:50:21

I don't think any one animal should have automatic protection anyway. The balance has to be carefully managed - if an animal is protected and never culled, the population becomes too high. If the population of badgers can take a cull, then surely it is worth a try to reduce the spread of TB. It may not be the only answer - but little is talked about the damage badgers do too. They make a hell of a mess and if the population gets too high then it can be at the detriment of other ecosystems surely?

cazboldy Tue 27-Aug-13 18:54:44

yeah I do. We have a small herd of our own, and my dh also is herdsman for a larger herd.

Last year 2 cattle on the farm were "inconclusive reactors" which means they might have it.

They were taken and killed and thankfully did not have it.

But it didn't make them any less dead! and the farm was shut up for 6 months.

Trivial compared to those that have a much worse problem, but it really is scary. i know lots of people who have been directly affected.

We only have 24, all have names, are more like pets really, and we show them locally. They belong to the dc, and they spend hours every week training them to walk on the halter, feeding them, cleaning them out, bathing them to take to a show etc.

We dread every test.

I think the actual figures are that about 13 out of every 100 killed do actually have TB. sad

I think they are years away from a vaccine, as the problem would be differentiating between a vaccinated cow or an infected cow (correct me if anyone knows better)

also has to do with EC legislation.

Thursdaylast agree with what you say too smile

frogwatcher42 Tue 27-Aug-13 19:00:55

I sometimes wonder how many of the animal rights protestors eat meat or wear leather.

If they do then it is a wonder they don't put their efforts into better animal husbandry in battery farms/intensively reared animals and the slaughter houses. Transport to slaughter houses for some of the animals from large impersonalised farms is terrible.

There are far more important animal welfare concerns they could protest about which would help millions of animals and poultry. Why do they put so much effort into a handful of badgers which will have had a great life in the wild, and 99% will be killed very humanely.

Jellykat Tue 27-Aug-13 19:02:49

There is a vaccine its being used here as i said.. they estimate a TB infected badger will die within 3 years, vaccinated or not, our programme is set to run for 5 years, leaving all the remaining badgers well free of TB.
They will not perform post mortems on all the killed badgers, they do not and will not know for sure what proportion of those badgers are carrying TB.

The cull will have to run for longer then 5 years to eradicate TB in badgers in that area. One of the problems with culling is that fleeing unculled TB carrying badgers will move their setts to the outlying land that surrounds the cull area, therefore spreading it.

Did you know TB is even live in slurry? I can tell you there are no measures in place if a farmer gets slurry on his boots/ tractor wheels and goes to visit his mate next door.
Theres so many things wrong, it's ridiculous.. and at the end of the day, according to DEFRA, a cull can at best only hope to reduce TB figures by 12 - 15%.

Jellykat Tue 27-Aug-13 19:05:07

FGS frogwatcher do you seriously think freeshooting is humane???

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 19:10:45

But isn't it worth it to prevent 12-15% of deaths of cattle?

Badgers might flee, but without any measures the TB will spread anyway.

cazboldy Tue 27-Aug-13 19:36:13

Jellykat we were talking about a vaccine forcattle

I can't see how a badger vaccine can be effective. Surely a certain percentage (a high one) needs to be vaccinated to eradicate a disease (as we have seen in measles outbreaks in humans!)

How would/dp you ensure this when we don't even know for definite how many badgers there are??

Like Thursdaylast said, it would be easier, and make more sense to vaccinate cattle.

(although obviously this wouldn't make the badgers healthy!)

frogwatcher42 Tue 27-Aug-13 19:40:24

Warning - do not read this post if you don't want a personal, but frank, view on how I see slaughter of animals including some stark views on the methods of death.

Jellykat - in answer to your question.

I do think that generally free-shooting is a far better method of death for an animal than a slaughterhouse or trapping. That is my personal view.

Freeshooting can be harsh if done by amateurs and poor shooters. Most professional free shooters are bloody good shots and I don't often see a wounded animal run off! I have seen many cows get loose in a slaughterhouse, I have seen many poor pigs in a terrible state many hours pre slaughter. I have seen chickens, and ducks, get through the neck slit alive and go for plucking and drawing. I have seen much distress after transport and lorries full of livestock sitting in full sun at the edge of a motorway for hours. I have seen chickens in the middle of lorries arrive dead at the slaughterhouse through suffocation.

If I was an animal I would rather have a good free life and then be free shot when I wasn't expecting it, rather than await my fate in the smell and stress of a slaughter house (particularly if it followed an intensively reared life with little free movement). To my mind, being shot when not expecting it, is like dying in your sleep or very quickly. It may be distressing for a few moments, but generally it is quick. For that I would certainly be grateful, and I would prefer if all meat was produced in that way. Not practical I know but I long for small slaughter houses to return and in and ideal world would have all meat slaughtered at source/farm.

Jellykat Tue 27-Aug-13 19:58:47

frogwatcher Noone ever suggested rounding up the badgers and carting them off to a slaughterhouse, that was never in the equation.

The humane way would be as was previously suggested here in our IAA. To bait traps for a few nights, set the traps on the last night and shoot cleanly with one shot. Our badgers were held before vaccinating for a very short time, and were not stressed by it, in fact 2 of our vaccinated badgers returned to the set traps the following night)

From what i have read not every killing is carried out by a professional marksman, and only a small percentage will be monitored (i somehow suspect those monitored WILL however be done by a professional) There is no guarantee whatsoever that the shooters will kill their victim with one shot, and that wounded animals will not manage to escape.

frogwatcher42 Tue 27-Aug-13 20:16:26

What is the difference in shooting after trapping, or free shooting? If free shooting is done by an experienced shooter then it can, and is likely to be, accurate.

I agree that it should be done by those who are good shots. That is essential.

Jellykat Tue 27-Aug-13 20:17:34

..and i'm sorry, but there's an awful lot of farmers that despise badgers with avengance, (badger baiting used to be great fun confused).. I seriously worry about what will happen once the green light for badger killing is given in those unmonitored areas.

frogwatcher42 Tue 27-Aug-13 20:17:41

If it was me, I wouldn't want to trap first as to me that makes the experience more stressful for the animal.

Free shooting all the way for me I am afraid. But then I am surrounded by people who are good at it and very accurate shots.

frogwatcher42 Tue 27-Aug-13 20:18:43

Jellykat - surely it won't be a free for all cull though. There will be specific areas and controls on numbers.

I think most farmers toe the line to be honest (certainly in my family they do). They may not want to, but they do.

TheFallenNinja Tue 27-Aug-13 20:18:49

I'm not entirely up to speed with the science but as I live rurally I'm absolutely into the idea that within farming and in the countryside things that I might find unpleasant have to happen, but someone does this and it seems necessary, for which I am grateful.

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 20:24:21


I think you are underestimating the farming community and their comprehension of the law.

Badger baiting USED TO BE fun. Now it isn't. Please don't muddy the waters with unfounded accusations.

frogwatcher42 Tue 27-Aug-13 20:30:48

Why is it that some people assume that farmers hate animals such as badgers and would like to see culling and preferably in a cruel way! It is insulting to the farming community.

Farmers and countrymen/women are just as capable of being law abiding citizens, and, more importantly, can be as passionate about animal welfare as anybody else and indeed are so, more often than not, in my experience.

They are often in a better position to get a sensible and realistic perspective of it all too.

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 20:38:07

Yes frogwatcher, well put.

Jellykat Tue 27-Aug-13 20:44:48

I live amongst the farming community in rural Wales, believe me, i do know what goes on.. hmm

There's a reason why security is so 100% airtight with ID etc, when our badger vaccination programme is running!

frogwatcher42 Tue 27-Aug-13 20:48:21

Jellykat what is the reason for the 100% security? Surely there is as much risk from those activists that think your trapping the badgers and vaccinating them is cruel, as from the few rouge farmers (why do they have to be farmers?) who want to kill the trapped badger (assuming that is what you are getting at?). Surely a farmer could much more easily kill a badger on his/her farm than going to all the effort of killing it in your trap?


Jellykat Tue 27-Aug-13 20:53:19

frogwatcher I haven't said all farmers aren't capable of being compassionate law abiding citizens, of course they are.. i'm saying there are a few who really don't give a monkeys about wildlife (or domestic pets for that matter!)

frogwatcher42 Tue 27-Aug-13 21:00:47

Jellykat - that is not just farmers though is it. In all sectors of society there are some who are cruel to animals.

I still think that, in general, farmers have a pretty good idea of what is needed in the countryside - after all that is their area of expertise.

I would still like to know the reason for your 100% security? And why you think killing a trapped badger is more humane than free shooting?

Jellykat Tue 27-Aug-13 21:14:28

I and my colleagues were labelled activists by the media, and the then Welsh minister for agriculture. These activists included a 73 year farmer who was waiting for a hip op. and a 60 yr old in a wheelchair.. and i'm a sweetie grin We were initially against any badger intervention, but soon realised a vaccination programme could be good compromise for everyone.

Yes i agree frogwatcher, but my neighbours found men wondering around their land, 'surveying the setts' who had no id and weren't verified on the phone by the relevant government body (they disappeared while she was finding out)
All i know is the 2 officials really stressed that only they were to be allowed on the property, and we were given a phone number to call if we were approached by anyone else.

When the cull here was abandoned in favour of vaccination, Elin Jones the ag. minister who tried to push it through, advised farmers to 'take matters into their own hands'. hmm

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 21:29:21

I'm sorry that that has been your experience Jellykat.

I really hope that the morality of some welsh people not become the subject of this thread.

Perhaps the vaccination compromise will be a success, but in my opinion five years is too long to wait to find out. The strain on the human element is too high; economic, personal. That to me is more important than the life of a badger.

I'm sure the agriculture minister you mentioned was reacting in frustration. The farming community often feels like it is dictated to from the city, and not considered in policy making decisions.

cazboldy Tue 27-Aug-13 21:31:55

jellykat can you respond to my earlier post about the effectiveness of the vaccine and the % of badgers that would need to be vaccinated for it to be effective, and how this is ascertained?

Also, if a cull will "only cut TB by 12 - 15%", how much of a reduction would a vaccine in badgers acheive?


as a farmer in an unaffected area I can see both sides - I love badgers (or brocks as we colloquially know them) and spent an awful lot of my childhood going brock watching with my dad who also is a farmer and also thinks badgers are wonderful.

However, if we were talking about rats would people be as up in arms? Or has the badger been romanticised above other similar rural pests?

The protesters are shouting the science doesn't support this!!! where as there is equally as much science to support the cull.

I don't know where people get this idea of factory farming from. I don't know any farmers in our area who don't farm using traditional methods e.g. animals outside eating grass in summer and spring and indoors in winter to keep them warm. So much of what animal rights people claim is happening on british farms is just alien to me and i don't recognise as being actual farming methods. Unfortunately an awful lot of American propaganda is used and an assumption is made that things are the same in the UK. Let me be clear - the UK has the highest farming animal welfare standards in the world.

There is so much other awful stuff going on in the world to both humans and animals - why do people care so much about a few measly badgers, when the best overall result of all this is going to be a healthier badger and cattle population and the worst is some sick TB ridden badgers get humanely culled but it has no overall affect on bovine TB?


Abra1d Tue 27-Aug-13 21:42:47

Entirely agree about British farming methods. And what we don't want is even more British farmers going out of business and us consumers having to buy food from overseas producers who don't care as much about animal welfare.

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 21:51:06

Coming from a heavily affected area, I too see the good in keeping the status quo. No one wants to get rid of the badgers, they are an essential part of the British ecosystem.

I have just seen on another thread that some people accuse the govt of only sanctioning this cull 'to appease'.

Well why not??? Why don't the people affected by the draconian measures currently in place deserve to be appeased??? My family have been suffering financially for years without offending your sensibilities, isn't it fair that for the sake of a few badgers someone tries to help them?

Jellykat Tue 27-Aug-13 21:53:59

Thursday The culls are set to run annually for 4 years with a 5 year follow up - 9 years in all.

The former minister (who is a farmers daughter) lives in a village 6 miles away from me, and is the MP for the county above, so not really viewed as a city type, she was put under pressure by her peers.

cazThe true effectiveness of the vaccine is being tested in situ in exactly the same way as the cull is, but with quicker results long term.(see above)

I just think there are other things that should be put in place, better testing methods, tighter bio security, and yes there is a cattle vaccination but its vetoed by the EU atm, because its vaccinated cow gives the same readings as a reactor when tested - maybe that should be worked on fast.

Don't forget although culling might reduce the TB figures by up to 15% there are possibilties that TB may rise by that or more in the surrounding areas!

frogwatcher42 Tue 27-Aug-13 22:01:54

I agree totally that our animal welfare is far better than other countries.

But I cant believe westmoreland that you do not believe in factory farming (or am I being thick and you are being sarcastic?).

There are loads of intensively reared animals on farms in the UK. Loads and loads of farms do it. For all forms of meat (although less so in cattle in my experience). Not to the extent of the EU I admit - but more animals with less space than I would like to see.

I only buy british meat - and my dc are veggie when out as they are worried that the restaurant hasn't bought uk meat and they refuse to eat other countries meat. I am proud!


who really thinks this is about trying to appease the farmers... really...?

so the group of people that are already being screwed everywhich other way for providing the nations food just have an irrational dislike of badgers mixing with their cattle and therefore are just going ahead with this cull for what? ...for shits and giggles?...because they are evil animal haters? beacuse they don't want to see any more healthy cattle needlessly die?

and the polticians are of course just going ahead with it to keep the farmers happy rather you know, the easy stuff they could so that the public would support, like setting fair prices for meat and milk....? or encouraging locally sold produce?

For me the fact that the govt has pushed ahead with this against popular public opinion when it has no financial or popularist benefit whatsoever for them (unlike benefit cuts) demonstrates that they feel it is a wise, but unpopular decision that has to be given a go.

Public opinion of farming and farmers in this country is just so skewed its laughable. We are not so far away from a global food crisis, this country needs to start speaking to its farmers and encouraging growth and sustainability in the industry rather than making it us and them and pandering to townie animal rightists.

Rant over!

I believe in factory farming I just know it doesn't happen on the scale that most people believe it happens in this country.

I meant to put a disclaimer in my first post about chickens (frankly disgusting the way they are raised in this country) and to a certain extent pigs in some settings but this is improving. But again, I don't recognise those practises as 'farming' and it isn't 'farmers' that do it but big agri-business. Don't tar actual farmers with that brush. Its like claiming ASDA is an artisan bakery.

Jellykat Tue 27-Aug-13 22:15:06

Why do you, like many others, always presume the animal rightists live in the town 'Westmorland* ??

Jellykat Tue 27-Aug-13 22:16:23

Oops Westmorland (^ see above ^ ) smile

frogwatcher42 Tue 27-Aug-13 22:16:54

Westmorland - it is quite large scale in this country and potentially getting bigger with the proposals for those massive farms (can't remember the details but massive sheds holding huge numbers of animals down south somewhere - nothring traditional or personal about that.). But then I was thinking mainly poultry (not just chickens) and pigs. Pigs get a raw deal although not as awful as in EU.

I still count it as farming - not in the traditional sense but farming all the same. It is a new face of farming in the same way as ASDA is a new face of bakery goods. A very knowledgeable farmer I know works for a national and he counts himself as a real farmer.

frogwatcher42 Tue 27-Aug-13 22:18:03

But we get off topic! Back to the badgers ......

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 22:43:17

Trialling the cull has begun...that is the first step, a step that can't be taken with an illegal vaccine.

Jellykat Tue 27-Aug-13 22:43:58

Westmorland There was a big piece on countryfile lately re. Intensive cattle farming, they basically said a lot of farmers were moving towards it and it's the future of farming. It's definitely growing.

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 22:46:18

And I'm with Westmorland when it comes to the definition of farming, this area is made up of relatively small scale farmers who really look after their animals.
I'm not denying that the industrial scale farms exist, they are just not what I consider during debates such as these. They are perfectly able to buy favourable policy should they wish wink

Jellykat Tue 27-Aug-13 22:46:26

What illegal vaccine Thursday? I'm confused..

ThatVikRinA22 Tue 27-Aug-13 22:56:03

cazboldy - you make it sound like the only rational opinion is one that agrees with a cull.

i am a perfectly rational human being.
so rational i read the scientific evidence that had been gathered with regards a cull.
that seems to shed doubt on the effectiveness of a cull.

im am a fan of evidence based scientific research.
in light of that i am against a cull.
i believe i am still perfectly capable of being rational. funny eh?

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 23:01:16

There is a vaccine, possibly even the same one used on badgers, but the EU don't allow it to be used on cattle. The details aren't clear to me, so I can't explain better than that I'm afraid shock
I think vaccination would be preferable, of course I do, who doesn't want healthy livestock?
I suppose questions would be raised over the produce of vaccinated animals...hopefully that's something that's being researched right now.

ThursdayLast Tue 27-Aug-13 23:03:41

Is that he scientific research that suggests a cull could affect a 12% decrease in bovine TB?

In that case I'd suggest it's in the interpretation...I think a 15% decrease is a good thing. Others see it as a waste of time.

WetAugust Tue 27-Aug-13 23:08:54

I'm also against a cull - mainly because I do not think it will many any difference at all.

TB will still exist in those areas outside the cull zone. What's the long term strategy here. Do we use the cull zones to prove that by eradicating badgers in those cull zones we have denied TB the opportunity to infect the cows that exist within the cull zones so the next logical step is to eradicate all badgers nationwide? Do we want to kill every badger in Britain?

I hears that there is a vaccine that could be used but were we to use it our meat would not be exportable? Really? I've also read there is a vaccine but it's not that effective. Well, to me they should carry on the research until there is an effective vaccine.

I'd hate to sacrifice the entire badger population of the UK because of some EU dogma against using a perfectly good vaccine - for commercial purposes.

But having said all that - after BSE, after organo-phosphates, after contamination in the food process, etc etc, who can we believe any more?

Jellykat Tue 27-Aug-13 23:17:59

The cattle vaccine currently can't be used as any vaccinated cattle would give the same reading as a TB reactor, this would make things difficult when importing, thats why the EU won't allow it atm.

The estimated decrease in Bovine TB is 12-15% as given by DEFRA, it could be lower, but i know when we were fighting the cull 3 years ago, the estimated figure for a reduction in TB by culling was 9%, funny how it seems to have risen..

WetAugust Tue 27-Aug-13 23:20:46

Well, for me the benefits are not sufficient to warrant a cull.

I have not heard about any demonstrations - I live in one of the cull zones.

Jellykat - Adam 'off of' countryfile also is absolutely for the badger cull and is one of its biggest campaigners. What's your point?

I'm giving you actual real life first hand opinion on what farmers think and you are backing up your opinion with what you saw on a BBC telly programme that has to think up new subject matter week after week.

If anyone can show me an example of an intensive/ factory beef or sheep farm in this country I will eat my straw hat. All of the EU subsidies are trying to divert farmers away from that type of farming.It just doesn't make sense!

frogwatcher42 Tue 27-Aug-13 23:33:58

Westmorland - there are a couple of cattle ones but not near me so I can't be more specific although my inlaws have visited them. They were huge yard type cattle farms and they came home a bit shell shocked after visiting them.

But not all farming is cattle or sheep!!! Intensive farming can cover pigs, chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, rabbits or any other farmed animal. I don't think anybody has specified on this thread what type of meat they were talking about being intensively farmed. You have just assumed beef or sheep - maybe you live in a hill farm area? I live in intensive farming country where even the arable is intensively farmed!! Every acre is farmed to death round here!

And I think you may be surprised that some farmers are going more intensive. Hence the visit by my relatives to the beef farm - it is a way forward when we are moving towards food shortages with more people to feed and less space. The subsidies are forever changing depending on the priority of the time.

Jellykat Tue 27-Aug-13 23:44:33

I know Adam off of Countryfile is for the cull, what is your point? I never mentioned Adams views on the subject. Adams view doesn't change my opinion.

I'm well aware of what farmers think, as a lot of our Anti cull members were farmers.. so again, whats your point? As a smallholder with many badger setts and no incidences of TB reactors amongst my immediate farming neighbours, am i not allowed a say on the matter?

I'm saying on that programme they were showing a young farmer around an Intensively farmed cattle farm in England.. if you'd like i can watch it on IPlayer and catch the name of it, but sadly not tonight as it's a bit late..

ThatVikRinA22 Wed 28-Aug-13 00:11:05

i really think the thinking behind this cull is flawed - it seems to me that the farmers and land owners opinions matter more than the actual evidence.
wonder why that is......

(actually i dont wonder at all.)

thecatfromjapan Wed 28-Aug-13 00:15:15

I'm not in favour of this cull, either.

And I'm by no means an Animal Rights person.

cazboldy Wed 28-Aug-13 08:26:05

Jellykat, but what percentage decrease in tb will the vaccinating achieve? If there is a workable vaccine and we can't use it because of the eu rules then we are focusing on the wrong point by arguing about the cull imo. We should be lobbying for that instead. I think i and many others don't want a cull, we just want no tb! And noone is talking about exterminating all badgers, i think it is a 70 % reduction.

ThursdayLast Wed 28-Aug-13 08:50:03


I wonder.
What do you mean?

Forgive the length of this but it is (I think) helpful).

From yesterday's Times:

Why can't we vaccinate animals to stop them contracting TB? Vaccines have been developed but there is no test to distinguish between vaccinated animals and ones that have the disease. For this reason the EU says vaccinated cattle have to be regarded as infected. In theory badgers could be vaccinated but the task would be enormous and the vaccine would have to be administered every year.

Has culling worked elsewhere? In Ireland the number of cases of bovine TV has fallen dramatically since culling started a decade ago. Similar results were found in NZ where bovine TB was being spread by possums. (I have shortened this as it was vv long).

Many experts believe that a combination of culling and vaccinations and restrictions on cattle movement will eventually overcome the disease.


It's all very well saying "I'm against the cull" but unfortunately that really doesn't get anybody anywhere at the moment. The UK farming industry can not wait for years until a properly effective vaccine is sorted, and in the meantime not only cattle but badgers are suffering - many people seem to think that the badgers are only carriers, but they're not, they are also victims of the disease. Overcrowding is as unhealthy for badgers as it is for other species.

I wish we could get away from the thinking that all farmers and landowners are rich bastards trying to influence the government for their own ends - I'm a landowner (2 whole acres), I'm not a rich plutocrat with a title and a fancy house, just someone who lives amongst a farming community with people who are really struggling to deal with something completely out of their control. Just because farmers make money from and with their livestock does not render them completely inhumane and uncaring - their cattle may not live in the house, but they mean as much to the farmer as my dog does to me, and not just for financial reasons. Yes, there are bad farmers, as there are bad pet owners, bad bankers, bad social workers, bad teachers, bad solicitors - but for every one of them are 100's of decent hard working people who do not deserve to be vilified at every turn for wanting to make a living.

I'd better go before this turns into an even more lengthy rant.....

ThursdayLast Wed 28-Aug-13 09:05:35


Here here!

WhatWillSantaBring Wed 28-Aug-13 09:16:44

Well, I for one have found this threading genuinely informative - I just wish the wider public debate could be so intelligent Brian May grin. Lobbyists on both sides get sooooo much further if they can talk in rational terms, leaving out emotive language. So, just for examples, comments like that from vicar above aren't really very helpful and show quite a lack of understanding about an awful lot of farmers who are really struggling. (That's not to say that there aren't a lot of very wealthy farmers, but the ones who are massively wealthy/have huge herds can probably cope with TB outbreak far better than a small scale dairy farmer with a tiny herd, for whom an outbreak could literally destroy a lifetime's work).

jelly - you've come up with a really interesting viewpoint, and I think it is important to remember that plenty of those on the anti-cull side of the debate are from rural communities with a good understanding of the struggles of rural life. smile. One question though, is that I thought I'd read that the trial culls in Somerset and Gloucester are being done through traps and shooting, not free-shooting? I suppose there are arguments both ways for which is more humane (as long as the marksmen are crack shots).

Another parallel I considered last night is the "culling" ('cept we don't call it that) of a wasps nest or a rat infestation. If we take rats (as they're mammals and therefore there is no debate on whether they feel pain) - is dying of internal bleeding really a pleasant way to go? Yet there seems to be little debate on whether its human to "cull" rats? So again, I think the debate needs to come down to HOW we can best manage the badger population, as it seems to be in danger of becoming out of control.

WhatWillSantaBring Wed 28-Aug-13 09:17:32

*humane, not human hmm

ThursdayLast Wed 28-Aug-13 09:30:07

I agree WhatWill,

The rational debate is really important, and not going batshit crazy at each other means that maybe, just maybe something will be achieved!

I wish discussions like this could stay in the public eye for longer, much like the milk price debacle, where everyone was up in arms for a Jeremy Vine show, then nothing EVER again!

IME, bovine TB is undermining the hard work and ethical practice of small scale farmers who often feel they have no influence on policy making. The fact that the govt is willing to try this is a measure of how much the disease is costing this nation.

I second the rat/possum argument too. NZ have a much less sentimental relationship with the possum, because they were imported (poss for sport? Can't remember). If badgers were not an indigenous species, how would that affect the argument?

WetAugust Wed 28-Aug-13 10:31:44

But I thought that all animals had to be uniquely tagged so that 'rogue' animals of unknown provenance did not enter the food chain.

Surely therefore it would be simple enough for records to be kept that stated which of these uniquely identifiable animals had been vaccinated and which have not. That should satisfy EU rules.#

Oh dear... I forgot .... a few months ago we were all up in arms because horse and goodness knows what other unidentified animals had indeed entered the food chain illegally. I wonder how they failed to miss those great big yellow plastic tags that should have been attached to the animals ears?

So, because farmers, the meat trade and the EU are incapable of working together to keep the records that the law demands of them so that the vaccinated stock can be differentiated from the unvaccinated - badgers need to be killed.

Shame the EU prevented us using the vaccine for Foot and Mouth too as that would have saved some irreplaceable breed lines and also saved the tax-payer a fortune.

If we are going to pass laws and accept EU directives we really ought to make sure we actually derive the benefits for which the law was actually introduced - by reinforcing it. Then you could be sure of the status of any potentially vaccinated stock.

What is so difficult about that? We can tie up car insurance / ownership / MOT etc on a central database. What is so difficult about trying to tie together this cow identified by this unique number has / not been vaccinated.

Ironic really to think that even the word vaccine derives from the word for a cow.

ThursdayLast Wed 28-Aug-13 10:43:01

Farmers DO tag every animal.
That is how they record and test the cattle right now.

The horse meat didnt come from English cattle farmers...what point are you making?

LentilAsAnything Wed 28-Aug-13 11:16:07

The sooner we stop using cows for food, the better. Farmers only care about the cows because they make money out of them. Badgers are being killed, so cows can be killed for food a little bit later. Barbaric, all of it.

ThursdayLast Wed 28-Aug-13 11:48:02


That is an interesting link, and it raises many points that have been mentioned on this thread already. I especially agree that badgers should be tested, and that the system of testing cattle needs to be assessed.

But your stand on meat eating in general seems extreme to me, and not really relevant in this instance. I imagine you are also against the dairy industry, cheese milk etc?

Surely it is better to care about an animal solely for monetary purposes than to not care at all?
Healthy animals are a benefit to any farmer. An ill cow does not produce healthy calves, or milk.

I only care about my job because of the money. That doesn't mean that I don't care at all. Or that I am bad at it

MostlyLovingLurchers Wed 28-Aug-13 12:54:23


Many countries have eradicated bTB through the systematic application of the tuberculin skin test alone and the slaughter of all test reactors.

This versus a cull for which there is no scientific justification. This is an entirely political decision.

MLL - this is what we are already doing, and it's just not working. The problem is that no soon as a herd is TB free, along come infected/carrying badgers to start the cycle again. There is no point slaughtering reactors ad infinitum, we'll end up with no cattle (although that would please some no doubt). That boils down to a complete cull of all cattle if you took that to the extreme.......what the badger cull is trying to do is get a balance back - currently because of the over population of badgers there is no let up from re-infection.

We sort of had a grip on bTB and in the 70's it was thought that most of the UK was free, however since the protection of the badger and the corresponding increase in numbers the rates are up - according to one website almost 200,000 cattle have been culled since 2008. I'm not for one minute suggesting that badgers should not be protected, nor would I advocate wholesale slaughter either, but a compromise has to be found, and until efficient vaccines can be developed this looks like it has to be it. Apparently the cost to vaccinate one badger is £3k in Wales - and it has to be repeated annually, so that's hardly efficient either.

cazboldy Wed 28-Aug-13 16:16:43

Lentil I dispute that farmers only care about cows because they can make money out of them........ it's like saying childminders only like children because they make money out of them!

We love our cows!!!

MostlyLovingLurchers Wed 28-Aug-13 16:40:29

But it is working. If you look at the data up to 2012 it will show a rise in the incidences of bTB. However, since the eu forced the uk to adopt the current testing and control measures in January there has been a month on month drop. According to DEFRA the incidence of bTB in cattle in March 2013 was 3.6%, compared to 3.9% a year ago, and a drop from 4.7% in December 2012. This is from an average over the last six years of around 5%. Early days and with caveats but clearly heading in the right direction.

MostlyLovingLurchers Wed 28-Aug-13 16:43:10

Cazboldy - ridiculous analogy. Childminders don't routinely pack their charges off to the abattoir.

ThursdayLast Wed 28-Aug-13 17:04:02

I think you can see Cazs point though?

Those statistics don't mean much to the farmers who's farms are under restriction and severe interpretation. And has been reported, the spread is not under control at all.

It is an incredibly stressful test on the animals, and interpretive, and often inaccurate.

LentilAsAnything Wed 28-Aug-13 17:05:48

Exactly, MLL. Nor do they artificially inseminate them (some would call this rape) merely so that they can continue to have calves (which are taken away from them, not allowed to nurse, and packed off for veal if they are male, or back into the vicious dairy cycle if they are female) and be able to lactate day in day out, for the rest of their sorry short lives.

ThursdayLast, yes, I am absolutely against the dairy industry. Not eating meat is not extreme. Slaughtering animals, when we have no biological need (all the vegans on this planet can attest to that), is extreme. Wrecking the planet, with animal agriculture, is extreme. Killing badgers, is extreme.

ThursdayLast Wed 28-Aug-13 17:16:48

And if everyone on the planet ate a vegan diet, that wouldn't affect any change on ecosystems?! Arable farming isn't any more or less intensive or intrusive.

I don't believe that anthropomorphising cattle is a valid way of arguing against everything, so I think we're going to have to agree to disagree on that point.
I do believe that the quality of life of farm animals is paramount, and IME that is an opinion shared by those in charge or their care.

Better to be kept and killed for a purpose, than killed pointlessly for being suspected of having a disease.

WetAugust Wed 28-Aug-13 17:21:17


The point I'm trying to make is that it is a bogus claim to say that the reason we (the EU) will not permit a vaccine for cows is because we cannot then tell which cows have been vaccinated and which cows are showing a reaction to TB.

Cows have ear tags.

Have yellow ear tag = cow unvaccinated

Have red ear tag after cow has been vaccinated

Red tagged cows don't enter food chain

Yellow tagged cows, if they test positive (false or otherwise for TB) get culled - as they do now.

But it negates the 'we cannot tell which are which 'argument.

WetAugust Wed 28-Aug-13 17:24:12

I was referring to frostyfingers very informative post upthread:

Q. Why can't we vaccinate animals to stop them contracting TB? A.Vaccines have been developed but there is no test to distinguish between vaccinated animals and ones that have the disease.

You don't need a test if you trust farmers and vets to tag correctly.

ThursdayLast Wed 28-Aug-13 17:29:16

That is a good idea, my experience is with the dairy industry, and that could work in theory. It does seriously reduce the value of cull cows at the end of their dairy life if they can't go into the food chain.

Although, now I've written that, I'm not sure being vaccinated means that they can't enter the food chain...have I made that up??

But I think where it is unworkable is the beef industry. If the EU won't allow vaccinated animals to be exported, those farmers who rely on selling beef abroad will be screwed. So it doesn't solve any problems there.

ThursdayLast Wed 28-Aug-13 17:31:31

And I take a little offence to the question of whether farmers and vets can be 'trusted' to tag properly.

They are doing everything they can in the current guidelines to make their lives, and the lives of their animals better.

The EU stance on this is not the fault of British farmers.

ANormalOne Wed 28-Aug-13 17:31:54

They're reducing the badger population by 70% for a 12-15% reduction in TB? Wow, really seems worth it.

LentilAsAnything Wed 28-Aug-13 17:39:41

If everyone ate a vegan diet, it would affect the environment positively. How can it not?

I'm not anthropomorphising animals, but I've seen enough evidence to show that animals wail for their babies when they are stolen from them, they hide their calves if they can, because they know what happens. I've seen enough to know that they exist for their own reasons, and don't want to be milked or killed. I've researched enough to know that animal agriculture and human greed is devastating our planet.
I've read enough to understand that if you kill a cat or dog in this country you are seen as a sadistic killer, but if you are responsible for the deaths of thousands of cows/pigs/sheep, you are merely a farmer. Weird.

I don't think an animal knows though whether it has been killed for meat or killed because it may have a disease. So no, neither is better for them.

ThursdayLast Wed 28-Aug-13 17:48:04

Because to supply the worlds population in a vegan diet would necessitate greater rice paddys, orchards, large scale wheat/corn/etc farming. From researching animal agriculture I'm sure you're aware of the effects of arable. Erosion, hedgerows destroyed, their wildlife along with them. Rainforests and other natural habitats are under no less threat from arable than animal.

But anyway, this is to stray from the point.

You believe that all animal farming is bad so I think I can safely assume that any side effect of it will be offensive to you. We're not going to be able to have a rational debate!

They do have to be tested regularly though, it's nothing to with trust. You can't tell if an animal is carrying TB by looking at it, the test proves or disproves that.

This is from the MRCVS site: Cattle vaccination will not work on its own., and this from TBFree England website: There are calls for cows to be vaccinated against bTB. However there is no legal vaccine available. Currently the only option is the BCG vaccine (Mycobacterium bovis Bacille Calmette-Guérin – ref 1,2,3,4,5). The problem is that at present it is impossible to distinguish between a BCG-vaccinated and TB-infected cow. And for this reason it is currently illegal under EU law to vaccinate cattle with the BCG jab. Work is underway to devise a DIVA test (ref 6,7,8) - a test that can Differentiate between Infected and Vaccinated Animals. But even when this has been fully developed, it will need to go through EU and international approval.

So, it's not just a question of vaccinating the cattle and leaving the badgers with TB, nor vice versa - it has to be a coordinated process limiting the disease in each animal.

As I said before, it's all very well saying "it's not worth it, it's cruel, don't do it" - what do you suggest farmers do now to reduce TB? Going vegan is never going to happen so it's pie in the sky to produce this as the answer - just saying you don't like it is fine, but it doesn't help anyone. And don't forget that all the time you say "don't cull the badgers" they are suffering too, this is from the Badgers Trust website: The disease chiefly affects the lungs and kidneys. Infected animals lose weight and body condition and experience breathing problems.

I seem incapable of making a short comment on this, I'd better go away and hide it!

ANormalOne Wed 28-Aug-13 17:53:08

Thursday that was a pretty ignorant comment. Reducing the amount of livestock we raise would greatly improve the environment and ecosystem, not least because of the huge amounts of methane gas they produce which contributes to global warming. Cattle rearing has a massive carbon footprint.

ThursdayLast Wed 28-Aug-13 17:57:41

Oh frostyfingers, don't go away, you make much more sense than me!

ANormalOne, I'm not trying to be combative, please don't accuse me of being ignorant! I am interested to hear how you would tackle the problem?

LentilAsAnything Wed 28-Aug-13 17:59:57

Thursday, animal agriculture is a burden on the planet. Let's not pretend it isn't. Eating plants directly is a much more efficient system, and I am absolutely sure you know this, and are merely protecting your livelihood arguing otherwise.

LentilAsAnything Wed 28-Aug-13 18:00:56

"Isn't man an amazing animal? He kills wildlife - birds, kangaroos, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice, foxes and dingoes - by the million in order to protect his domestic animals and their feed. Then he kills domestic animals by the billion and eats them. This in turn kills man by the million, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative - and fatal- health conditions like heart disease, kidney disease, and cancer. So then man tortures and kills millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases. Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals. Meanwhile, some people are dying of sad laughter at the absurdity of man, who kills so easily and so violently, and once a year, sends out cards praying for "Peace on Earth." - from Old MacDonald's Factory Farm by C. David Coats

ThursdayLast Wed 28-Aug-13 18:02:04

I'm not trying to deny the carbon footprint of cattle rearing either, I'm rational enough to understand the downsides. But I refute the suggestion that a worldwide vegan lifestyle (even if it were plausible) is the whiter than white option as it is being presented here.

And frostyfingers makes a good point that I can't believe I I missed! If every cow was vaccinated, every cow would show as a reactor on the tests...

ThursdayLast Wed 28-Aug-13 18:03:30


You too are man.

MostlyLovingLurchers Wed 28-Aug-13 18:04:21

Those statistics don't mean much to the farmers who's farms are under restriction and severe interpretation. And has been reported, the spread is not under control at all.

You are ignoring the fact that the eu legislation is working though has had little time to work, and that it had to be forced on the uk, yet you are prepared to back something that virtually every scientific advisor has said will not work. As for the reporting, the reduction in incidences is not something which is widely being promoted since it does not fit with the political agenda. Of course you can plough through pages of DEFRA statistics if you're interested (like i did), but I could only find those stats I quoted reported on two sites. If you were of a conspiratorial turn of mind you could almost think it is like they don't really want people to know...

LentilAsAnything Wed 28-Aug-13 18:04:44

"In fact, if one person is unkind to an animal it is considered to be cruelty, but where a lot of people are unkind to animals, especially in the name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once large sums of money are at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people" - Ruth Harrison

LentilAsAnything Wed 28-Aug-13 18:07:43

I don't kill animals. None. Perhaps an ant, if I accidentally tread on one, but I make an effort not to. I am against the badger cull. This planet has issues.

ANormalOne Wed 28-Aug-13 18:11:26

It is ignorant though, the affects of wide scale cattle rearing on the environment has been known for years, not the least the effect on our own health.

As for the badger cull, I don't think it's effective at all. Like I said previously, reducing the badger population by 70% is only going to reduce TB by 12-16%. That's a huge reduction of numbers for what is essentially a tiny benefit. It's a short term, short-sighted, attempt at currying favor with farmers. We need a long term solution, we should be vaccinating badgers, developing a workable vaccine for cattle and, as the man who originally commissioned the original cull in 1990 has stated, creating 'bio-security' measures to prevent cattle and badgers from coming into contact with each other.

ThursdayLast Wed 28-Aug-13 18:11:35

I think lentil that this is where we agree to disagree.
I understand your point. I just don't agree with it.

ThursdayLast Wed 28-Aug-13 18:15:31


I couldn't agree more that other avenues need to be explored as well. It's just that I also believe that this trial needs to go ahead so as to definitively demonstrate if it is or is not effective.

LentilAsAnything Wed 28-Aug-13 18:18:26

What are you disagreeing with? I've laid out facts.
We do not need meat or dairy to survive. We thrive, in fact, we do better, on a plant-based diet.
Therefore, killing animals is a cruel thing to do. Depriving a calf of his mother, is unnecessary and barbaric.
Meat and dairy industries are diabolical for the planet.

All I understand about your points are that you wish to carry on eating cow flesh and mammary secretions, and don't care how many cows or badgers have to die in order for this to happen.

ThursdayLast Wed 28-Aug-13 18:18:59


I'm not part of Defra, so I can't speak for their motives. All I know is that the testing and slaughtering of cattle is not proving effective ENOUGH, and that perhaps combined with a badger cull will see better results.

We don't know if we don't try. I know that there are other studies that you have cited, but circumstances change, and research needs to be refreshed.

JourneyThroughLife Wed 28-Aug-13 18:19:15

Sorry, I only have one point to make..... I don't care if it's badgers, cows or even warring nations, I just wish that whenever there's a problem the only solution human beings can think of is to kill something.....

ANormalOne Wed 28-Aug-13 18:19:30

We've already carried out an 8 year trial that showed that badger culling worked, but not effectively, how is a 6 week trial going to 'definitively demonstrate' whether it's effective or not? hmm

JourneyThroughLife Wed 28-Aug-13 18:19:57

...surely there's a better answer?

ANormalOne Wed 28-Aug-13 18:21:38

There is a better answer, but it's a long term plan. People don't want that. They want something short term, regardless of how effective or ineffective it is. Nothing new there.

ThursdayLast Wed 28-Aug-13 18:27:15

It's only relatively short the mean time farmers go out of business and cows are unnecessarily killed.

It is definitely an imperfect situation, but I personally believe that the pros of the trial outweigh the cons.

ANormalOne Wed 28-Aug-13 18:30:42

Yeah, I bet that 15% reduction of TB is really going to stop unnecessary killing and the farmers going out of business, isn't it?

All you're doing is putting your fingers in your ears and going, 'NAH NAH NAH NAH NAH, I think it's going to work, NAH NAH NAH NAH' with no evidence to support your point.

I'm done.

LentilAsAnything Wed 28-Aug-13 18:35:41

Journey, the better answer is to educate everybody that we need to stop using animals. Stop eating them, stop consuming their milk and eggs. It truly is that simple. It is a perfect solution.

WetAugust Wed 28-Aug-13 19:06:02

The problem is that at present it is impossible to distinguish between a BCG-vaccinated and TB-infected cow.

Again, a rubbish argument.

You test the stock - you have to do those tests regularly any way.

Those that are 'clear' of TB get vaccinated. You put a RED tag in their ear.

Those that test positive or false positive for TB get destroyed - just as they do at the moment.

You therefore gradually build up a national herd of cows that have been vaccinated against TB - as evidenced by the RED tags in their ears.


MostlyLovingLurchers Wed 28-Aug-13 19:15:29

We don't know if we don't try. I know that there are other studies that you have cited, but circumstances change, and research needs to be refreshed.

But we do know. I won't bother listing all the trials and studies again, but we know exactly how much of a reduction in bTB will result. As ANormalOne has posted, a 70% reduction in the badger population equates to a 12-16% reduction in bTB in the short term. This trial is short term and does not even attempt to determine how many of the culled badgers are infected, something which might actually help inform what is happening. This is politics over evidence-based scientific advice.

Takver Wed 28-Aug-13 20:16:31

I also live in the part of Wales that was in the proposed pilot cull area. Two things to note:
- the people I knew who were most anti the cull were dairy farmers with a science background. They were of the opinion having researched it thoroughly that the cull was likely to make the TB problem worse, not better because of the disturbance factor. Some were openly in the anti camp, but at least one family didn't feel able to be openly anti-cull because of social pressure, however I know they disguised as many of their badger sets as possible with farm machinery etc before the survey.

- annoyingly I can't find the statistics now, but I am reasonably certain (ie I saw the WAG stats) that the incidence of TB in cattle in the pilot area fell statistically significantly once the surveying started - with the assumption being that greater enforcement of bio-security was the cause.

SlowlorisIncognito Wed 28-Aug-13 20:53:43

I have every sympathy with cattle farmers who lose animals to TB. I think more money should be put into developing effective vaccinations against TB, as this will prevent cattle catching TB from all sources, and should eventually develop herd immunity. I think the government should be funding this as a priority.

Whilst badgers are a source of TB infection, there is a lot you can do to prevent badgers getting into cattle sheds, and stop them being attracted onto the farm, as the main source of infection is badgers coming into cattle sheds in search of food or bedding. However, another animal which is a major carrier of TB in the UK are deer. Deer are more likely to share pasture with cattle, thus it's harder to prevent infection.

Plenty of other animals, including more exotic livestock such as camelids (including animals like camels and alpacas) can infect cattle with TB. Whilst cattle are routinely tested before movement, sometimes more unusual forms of livestock are not tested as there is less awareness and less restrictions. It is possible that when these animals come into contact (e.g. at an agricultural show), TB could be spread from the camelid to a cow.

Enforcing biosecurity on farms is really important for disease prevention. The government could perhaps put money into helping small scale farmers develop better bio-security (for example by providing grants for specific equiptment, or providing education on the best techniques). Large scale intensive farms are very hot on biosecurity, and tend to have less problems with disease (because infectious disease in an intensive environment is devistating).

I'm not against a cull in principle, although I do think there are other things the government could and should be doing (instead if it has to be a choice). However, I do think doing a cull in a small area is pointless. It will probably have one of two results (because culls in a limited area usually do)- either it will cause badgers to disperse from the cull area into the surrounding areas, causing, possibly, a rise in TB in those neighbouring areas, or, after the cull is over, badgers from neighbouring areas will move back in, redering the cull pointless over the long term.

I'm also worried about the effect of removing badgers from ecosystems, which doesn't seem to have been that widely investigated. Badgers act as an apex predator in lots of ecosystems, and it has been shown that the removal of apex predators often has unintended consequences for the ecosystem.

In this specific case, I would be a bit worried about the effect on mink populations. Badgers do sometimes compete with mink for food, so it follows a lack of badgers might cause an increase in mink populations, which we have spent a long time trying to completely eradicate, because they are a harmful invasive species. It will probably also cause an increase in other predator numbers, such as foxes.

I think the trials are so small scale and short term as to be pointless, and I wonder if the government are going to use this as an excuse not to go ahead with a wide scale cull and go back to ignoring the problem of bovine TB.

Jellykat Wed 28-Aug-13 21:00:05

Absolutely Takver, and do you remember while EJ was trying to push the cull through, the amounts of letters to our local paper from landowners and farmers pointing out the many flaws in cattle management/ movement/ testing etc.. Thankfully here these huge gaps in biosecurity have been tightened, but i have not read or heard anywhere, any talk of enforcement regarding these gaps in the English cull areas..

Jellykat Wed 28-Aug-13 21:28:46

Icognito Evidence for what you are saying is stated here -

Please read Thursday, i'd be interested in what you reckon to it.

Varya Wed 28-Aug-13 22:20:17

Dairy cows live comparatively short lives and grieve for the calves taken from them. To me farming seems a very cruel way of life and the badger cull is just another cruelty. I thought badgers were supposed to be a protected species.

MostlyLovingLurchers Wed 28-Aug-13 22:39:48

Yes Varya, they are legally protected under The Protection of Badgers Act 1992. However, Natural England (who are fundamentally part of Defra) can issue licenses in 'exceptional' circumstances. They have said that no further licenses will be issued until the effects of the pilots have been evaluated.

Interesting point Incognito re using the pilot culls as an excuse not to roll out something on a larger scale.

ThatVikRinA22 Fri 30-Aug-13 00:53:11

i have no idea why the government cowtow to the land owning masses on this issue.
i sat in a pub the other week listening to a farmer having lunch with his lawyer and talking about the fields he just sold for over a million pounds.

poor farmers. i had to leave. he was very loud and put me right off my food.
thats what the cull is about. money. everything always is.

ThursdayLast Fri 30-Aug-13 07:56:31

I liked that link Jellykat, rational and insightful. Thank you for sharing it with me. (And thanks for not advocating worldwide vegan ism as the answer too the worlds problems wink)

I think Incognitos final point is probably the most accurate of all that have been posted on here...that this is a govt attempt to save face with the rural community and no further or more long reaching efforts will be made.

This thread has really emphasised then need for a workable vaccine for cattle, and taught me lots of others things too...some more helpful than others!

Vicarina, I hope you're not so narrow minded as to believe all farmers are the same! I'd like to emphasise that 'landowner' and 'farmer' are not mutually exclusive. But thanks for your insightful anecdote all the same.

ThatVikRinA22 Fri 30-Aug-13 22:53:09

i do believe that this is about politics and money, and not about science.

ive read jellys post - which seems to reiterate this fact. the cull has no basis in science.

so why are we even having this discussion?

WetAugust Fri 30-Aug-13 22:54:39

Because lots of cows have TB so 'something must be done'.


Jellykat Fri 30-Aug-13 23:19:55

I agree with Vicar, the basis for the cull is not scientifically led.. surely that only leaves politics and money.

The government has to be seen to be doing something, killing badgers in these IAAs is an easy option..but then what? sad

ThursdayLast Sat 31-Aug-13 07:16:32

I started this thread because it is a matter that's important to me and I hoped to gain some knowledge from others opinions...and I have.

I don't think politics and money are necessarily the evil you all believe...decisions on war, the NHS etc are all made politically and financially.

And money IS important when it's YOUR livelihood on the line.

Trying to help reduce TB does not make anyone a tosspot.

WetAugust Sat 31-Aug-13 09:48:14

...but the methods they are employing in their attempt to reduce/annihilate bovine TB do make them tosspots.

They should be having that difficult conversation with the EU over an acceptable vaccination policy.

Not culling badgers in a few disparate areas in the hope that it may reduce TB by a paltry 15% max. A completely unsustainable strategy longterm.

It's a tosspot idea.

Jellykat Sat 31-Aug-13 11:40:10

Thursday There's something i don't put it simplisitically- farmers get compensation for a TB infected cow don't they? What proportion of the cows worth is the compensation? i.e does it fund buying another cow?

cazboldy Sat 31-Aug-13 12:51:45

it is supposed to be market value.

problems arise when it is a special cow, so worth more than standard market value. ie a show quality animal, a special bloodline, irreplaceable.

it is also hard to replace like for like. For example one of the cows we lost was 7 months in calf, so would have had another soon as a replacement for the future.

It is also more of an impact than just the loss of that one cow.

You cannot move animals off your farm until you have had 2 clear tests. a minimum of which will be approx 6 months as the tests can only be done 60 days apart.

If you don't get a clear test of course it can be an ongoing problem.

Then you have to feed and house extra cattle - or have them destroyed.

and as far as I am aware you cannot buy replacement cattle while under tb restrictions either, so potentially your income is very much reduced.

ThursdayLast Sat 31-Aug-13 20:06:25


I had to find out the answer before I could reply. Caz has pretty much said it all anyway.

They get what is supposed to be a market value, it is generated from the average sales taken from the last three months, and believe it changes monthly. I believe (v approx) it to be about 70% of the value, but does not take the individual animal into account.

That compensation financially is still only the cull sale value, her value at the end of her working life...not the value of her productivity...IYSWIM.

And it is scant compensation for the logistical nightmare that TB testing, and being under restriction entails. You have v limited options to sell, more animals to feed but less money coming in to house or supply feed! It's one of those lose lose situations for small scale farmers. Often creates a cash flow crisis, in farming you need to make money to spend money, otherwise it stagnates.

These things can lead to lowered standards of living for the farm animals...through no fault of the farmers.

ThursdayLast Sat 31-Aug-13 20:08:54

And before I get another barrage of abuse I'm talking about SMALL SCALE FARMERS. Not landowners. Not intensive farming.

Farms with cattle numbering in the few or several hundred. more political conspiracy!

Jellykat Sat 31-Aug-13 22:51:11

Thank you for explaining, i understand a bit more now..i do sympathise with the small scale farmers, but am still 100% against the cull.

ThatVikRinA22 Sun 01-Sep-13 19:14:31

is anyone watching country file now?

there is a vaccination for badgers. its being used in some areas.

Jellykat Sun 01-Sep-13 20:37:48

Missed it Vicar, but yes here in Pembs we're into our 2nd year of vaccination, after our cull was abandoned by the Welsh Assembly.. Thank god!

ThursdayLast Sun 01-Sep-13 21:28:07

I missed it too, sure it will be on again though.

Sounds interesting...

WetAugust Sun 01-Sep-13 22:11:54

I saw it.

It said there was a bovine vaccine bu the EU had banned its use.

It was said that it had yet to be ascertained if the vaccine would affect milk or meat.

It said that it hoped the vaccine would be available within*10 years*. !!

It seemed to imply that this programme of vaccine safety testing had not yet even started.

I think there was a little hint of scepticism in the programme about the inaction of the EU in all this.

Then they interviewed some activists who vaccinated badgers.

So, as I always do in cases such as this I ask myself - if there is no rush to roll out a bovine vaccination programme, who is profiting from the current situation?

So who exactly is profiting from this?

Is it the pharma companies who sell the TB test kits that would be redundant if an effective vaccination were to be introduced.#

Is the phrama company that produces the current TB test kits the same company that is developing the vaccination. Is one pharma trying to freeze out the other?

Is it the vets - can't see how they would profit either way.

Is it the farmers - can't see that losing stock through TB benefits them at all.

So who is so keen for the current situation to endure?

Jellykat Mon 02-Sep-13 00:27:17

I have just seen the notices that have been put up in Gloucestershire, warning the public at entrances to the live shooting areas, and feel sick.

There are many Wounded Badger Patrols (not animal activists!) being set up, to help wounded and dying animals. Seems i'm not the only one who thinks freeshooting is not a clean cut death. sad

CFSKate Mon 17-Feb-14 11:43:34

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