Willsbros farmers fined for moving TB-restricted cattle

Image caption,
Trading Standards said it was vital for farmers to adhere to controls

A farm in Cornwall has been fined for moving cattle while under tuberculosis (TB) restrictions.

Willsbros Ltd, of Pawton Dairy, Wadebridge, was put under restrictions in January last year.

However a vet spotted a local newspaper photograph of the Willsbros family at a national cattle show in Warwickshire.

Willsbros pleaded guilty to seven offences under tuberculosis and cattle identification legislation at Bodmin Magistrates' Court.

The company was fined £7,200 and ordered to pay costs of £7,140.

'Eagle-eyed vet'

The court heard the TB2 restrictions followed the discovery of an inconclusive reactor at Pawton Dairy during a pre-movement TB test.

This restriction prevented any unlicensed movements on or off the premises until a negative test had been obtained - at least 60 days after the initial test.

When "eagle-eyed" vet Cliff Mitchell noticed an article and photograph in the Cornish Guardian of the Willsbros at the National All-Breeds Show in February 2010, a joint investigation was launched by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Cornwall Council Trading Standards.

Investigators discovered cattle had been moved between premises run by Willsbros Ltd without TB pre-movement testing, without passports being completed and without the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) being informed of the movements.

Rapid tracing

DNA tests of the pedigree animal which sparked the TB2 restrictions found no biological link between it and the animal registered as its mother with both the BCMS and the Holstein UK pedigree society.

John Pascoe, the animal health manager from Cornwall Trading Standards, said the investigation had uncovered serious deficiencies in the recording, reporting and monitoring of cattle births and deaths.

After the sentencing, Mr Pascoe told BBC News presiding judge Paul Farmer had talked about the 10th anniversary of the foot-and-mouth outbreak which decimated farming in Devon and Cornwall and other parts of the UK in 2001.

"Judge Farmer alluded to the anniversary and how it highlighted the fact that failure to follow the correct procedures can put farmers at serious risk," he said.

"It is vitally important for the farming industry to adhere to these controls which enable rapid tracing of animal movements."

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