A college farm business in Wales has taken eight years to recover from a series of bovine tuberculosis breakdowns, according to its manager.

John Owen, who manages the Gelli Aur Farm in Carmarthenshire, said the unit had only just returned to optimum numbers in its the spring and autumn calving herds after losing more than 300 cattle over the past eight years.

The farm’s biggest single TB breakdown resulted in the loss of 100 cows.

Although the herds are still the subject of TB restrictions, losses are now rarely more than two or three cows at any one time, said Mr Owen. “We have reached a stage where we have enough animals of our own to replace these and we are back to 250 cows in each of the herds.’’

The repercussions of bovine TB created another major disease issue because cattle bought in as replacements infected the existing stock with BVD and IBR.

This, said Mr Owen, had created as many problems as TB. “We have bought in a lot of problems and this has haunted us for the past five years,’’ he said. “Rather than vaccinate for every disease we have decided to go down the route of eradication. This is certainly not a cheap option but it will lessen the impact of disease in the herd.’’

He admitted there were benefits from having the herd tested for bovine TB every 60 days. “When you go for six months without a test you can potentially lose a lot of cattle in one go but if you lose two or three during a 60 day test the replacements needed can be sourced from our own stock.’’