A Shropshire farmer has told of his sadness at having to wind down his herd of beef cattle because of bovine TB.

Mervin Mullard has lost 133 cattle to bovine TB since his herd first tested positive to the disease in 2007 and said he can no longer go on with the heartache or financial cost of seeing his animals destroyed.

Mr Mullard, who farms 200 mixed cattle on his farm in Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire, said he had spent nearly 50 years building up his herd, which had remained free of the disease until badger numbers exploded in the area.

It has left him in no doubt that a cull has to be part of a series of measures to tackle the disease in cattle and allow healthy wildlife to flourish.

“I want to see healthy badgers and healthy cattle, but at the moment that’s not possible. It’s left me in the position where I won’t be replacing my heifers and will instead be winding down my herd.”
Mervin Mullard

“I only used to see one or two badgers across the whole farm, but now I can see 20 badgers in just one field some evenings,” he said. “I have even had sick badgers in my garden, which is horrible to see.

“I want to see healthy badgers and healthy cattle, but at the moment that’s not possible. It’s left me in the position where I won’t be replacing my heifers and will instead be winding down my herd.”

 

DEFRA secretary Owen Paterson, who visited Mr Mullard’s farm on Thursday (8 August), said the situation was a tragedy and that a badger cull had to be part of the solution of TB.

“Culling 133 cattle out of 200 is needless slaughter,” he said.

“If we go on like this we will see more farmers packing it in like Mervin, we won’t have a cattle industry and it will go on costing the taxpayer millions.

“It is not enough to just tackle the disease in cattle, so we will have two pilot culls this year and a subsequent ten culls next year.”

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