Welsh dairy farmer loses 21 cows in one day to Bovine TB

A Welsh dairy farmer has spoken of the “horrendous” loss of 10% of her herd to Bovine TB.

Abi Reader, who farms with her father and uncle on 800 acres in Wenvoe, Vale of Glamorgan[1], lost 21 cows because of the infectious disease on Tuesday, June 1.

The 39-year-old explained that three of the 21 cows were pregnant and had been due to give birth in the coming days and weeks but were induced in an attempt to try and save the calves, two of which survived.

“Our herd broke down with Bovine TB back in 2019 and we have been up and down with problems ever since,” Abi said.

“We have lost approximately 48 animals in that time to TB and now we have lost 21 in one go. There were three cows in there that were so close to calving so we thought ‘do we try and induce them to try and save the calves?’ as it comes with all sorts of risks. One of them was a first-time mum and she was two weeks away from calving. Last Saturday we induced the cows and then on the Monday we calved them.

“On the Tuesday a lorry came to pick up 16 of the cows to take them to the slaughterhouse and five (three that were pregnant and two that were on antibiotics withdrawal) were shot on the farm.”

Abi Reader lost 10% of her herd to bovine TB
48 animals have been lost since 2019 because of TB

Abi, who was previously named Wales Woman Farmer of the Year[2] at the Royal Welsh Show, called the situation “horrendous” and said that she doesn’t expect the herd “to be free from TB until the new year”.

She added: “It was horrendous. I’ve never seen anything like that before and I’ve grown up farming. It’s quite like a roller coaster with all the lows and no highs. We have lost 10% of the herd – as long as we can maintain that level and it doesn’t drop any lower. I don’t anticipate us becoming free of TB until the new year because the whole herd will be tested in 60 days and we will probably lose more.

“I have a fantastic team on the farm who helped me get through this but there are a lot of farmers who are on their own. We live our whole lives with these creatures and we are with them every single day. It’s like having a pet because if you didn’t care for them you wouldn’t feed them.”

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She has called for more help from politicians for the farming community to try and fight the disease.

“I don’t think any help is coming. There’s nothing on the horizon. I understand we have to control this disease but we are not doing enough as a country. I feel that so much protection is offered to badgers but human beings and cows are neglected.

“As farmers we are not very good at speaking out but this disease is getting out of control. We need more help from politicians.”

The Welsh Government stated that it was “a priority” of the TB Eradication Programme to find and remove infected cattle from herds before they infect others.

A spokesman said: “Losing any cattle is extremely distressing, but particularly so when pregnant, and we fully sympathise with the farm concerned.

“Bovine TB is an infectious disease, and failing to remove all infected animals from a herd can prolong TB breakdowns and potentially pose a risk to other cattle and other cattle herds.

“It is a priority of our comprehensive TB eradication programme to find and remove infected cattle from herds before they have the chance to infect others, while doing all we do can to save unborn calves as described in this case.”

References

  1. ^ Vale of Glamorgan (www.walesonline.co.uk)
  2. ^ named Wales Woman Farmer of the Year (www.walesonline.co.uk)
  3. ^ click here (www.walesonline.co.uk)