Junior DEFRA minister Ben Bradshaw has defended DEFRA’s decision to cull 567 cattle from a farm in Cheshire.

The minister – who holds the animal health and welfare portfolio – had a letter published in the Sunday Telegraph which said the cattle were killed to prevent them entering the food chain.

“I can assure you that the reason the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs slaughtered 567 cattle belonging to David Dobbin was not because of “complex bureaucracy” or a lack of form filling, but because we believed there were serious breaches of the Cattle Identification Regulations and thus a subsequent risk to human health,” he wrote.

“We had to prevent untraceable cattle entering the food chain.”

A statement issued by DEFRA last week said that the farmer had got two interim injunctions preventing DEFRA from slaughtering the animals, but the court decided on 6 March not to grant a further injunction therefore allowing the slaughter to proceed.

The statement also claimed that when the cattle were seized by Cheshire Trading Standard officers they were in poor condition.

Mr Dobbin has been given permission by the court to seek judicial review of DEFRA’s decision to slaughter them. It is understood that the review has been set for nine month’s time.