21 March 1997

Block cohort cull, says Sussex vet

A SUSSEX vet practice has advised its dairy farmer clients to delay, for as long as possible, allowing MAFF officials on to their farms to trace cohorts for the selective cull.

Nick Adames, who farms near Bognor Regis, West Sussex, said his local vets, based in Arundel, were telling farmers that if they blocked the cohort tracing then the entire selective cull could be delayed for years.

Mr Adames said he fully intended to delay the MAFF visit for as long as possible. "I am milking 109 cows and I could lose as many as 48 of them to this cull. It will rip the heart out of this herd that my grandfather, father and I have built up over 100 years," he said.

And with his cows due to calve between June and Sept, Mr Adames is anxious to make sure that none of his cows is culled until calving is over. But he has no plans to break the law and concedes that MAFF vets might eventually threaten legal action if they are denied access to his farm.

He admits that the delaying policy could seem negative to some, but he insists that there is no justification for the selective cull. "These animals are perfectly healthy. If I thought for a minute that they were a risk to anyone then I would get rid of them straight away."

And he does not believe that farmers who deliberately try to delay the cull could be putting any relaxation of the beef export ban in jeopardy. "We all know that the Europeans will not honour their side of the Florence agreement for years, and I dont expect any progress will be made this century," he said.

According to Mr Adames, his vets were opposed to the cull on two grounds. They objected to the slaughter of healthy cattle and they also believed that the cull would drive BSE reporting underground in case more cohort groups were eventually added. No one from the vet practice was available for comment.