Farm leaders urge Welsh Assembly not to back down over Shambo the TB reactor bull

Welsh farming leaders are insisting that veterinary surgeons must not respond to worldwide support for a campaign to save a TB reactor called Shambo.

An internet blog and webcam set up by members of the Skanda Vale Hindu Community in Carmarthenshire have received a huge number of hits from the UK, USA and the Indian sub continent.

By mid week 7000 people had signed a petition calling on the Welsh Assembly to withdraw a notice of intention to slaughter Shambo, a six year old Friesian cross bullock that gave a positive reaction during a routine tuberculin skin test in April. 

This led to a standoff between members of the religious community, who claimed that the animal’s life was sacred, and Welsh assembly veterinary surgeons.

Spokesmen for the community claimed that the test was unreliable and that Shambo showed no clinical signs of bovine TB.

Having isolated Shambo from other bovines in a straw walled “shrine” they asked vets to allow him to be treated rather than slaughtered.

But after a visit from chief Wales vet Christianne Glossop Welsh assembly officials insisted that statutory slaughter must go ahead to protect other cattle.

But the Hindu Forum of Britain warned that many members were ready to travel to Wales to resist veterinary authorities.

Community members claimed that many farmers supported their stand, but both the Farmers Union of Wales and NFU Cymru responded that if the slaughter of TB reactors was deemed necessary to control the disease exceptions could not be made on religious grounds.

Dai Davies, president of NFU Cymru, who lost many cattle during a TB outbreak on his farm, said he was sympathetic, but he insisted that Shambo must be destroyed.

Brian Walters, FUW vice president, visited Skanda Vale and said he understood the monk’s reluctance to allow the animal to be killed.

“But no farmer wants to see cattle slaughtered and no exceptions can be made if we are to stop the spread of this terrible disease,” he said.