Wiltshire

Wiltshire NFU renews call for bovine TB badger cull

Cows
Image caption Defra's current figures show that 133 farms have been restricted across the county

Wiltshire National Farmers Union (NFU) has renewed calls for a badger cull and is urging farmers to take part in Defra's consultation on the issue.

More than 130 farmers in the county are unable to sell or transport their livestock until they have been given the all-clear from suspected bovine TB.

Minette Batters, from the NFU, said: "This will be the culling of sick badgers, it would be very well monitored and very controlled."

The consultation closes next month.

She added: "You've got your cattle and your badgers and if you're only culling one side of that, the disease will never be brought under control."

The figure of 133 has been provided by Defra, although the NFU claims the number is higher.

Dairy farmer Robert Cooper, who has a herd of 250 cows at Winterbourne Monkton near Avebury, is one of the farmers affected by Defra's restrictions.

Mr Cooper has not been able to move or sell any of his cattle for 16 months, after some of his animals reacted to a TB skin test. He said he had never seen any symptoms of the disease in his livestock.

He said: "We have just won the award for the best dairy herd in the UK. We would normally sell between 70 and 80 head of stock a year.

"But now we can't sell any unless we sell them for slaughter. As a result we're killing cows at the height of production.

"Plus we're having to keep them in sheds that they can't all lie down in, so we've got a welfare issue of housing animals with nowhere for them to sleep.

"All these will be slaughtered tomorrow, I can't bear it."

Jack Reedy, from the Badgers Trust, said: "Last week there was a conference at the Royal Zoological Society where it became clear a cull could make the situation worse.

"What that does is encourage other badgers to move into the area where other badgers have been killed, you stir up the population and that is exactly what you do not do to control a disease."

The public consultation on how bovine TB should be tackled closes on 8 December.

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