Farmer Focus: Worsening TB problem continues to frustrate

The month began with the sheer relief of a passed bovine tuberculosis (TB) test.

Every year I forget how stressful tests are. This year had an added edge, given that we have used a lot more sexed semen and have a glut of beef pregnancies starting next month.  

They are hopefully going to be one of the answers to improving our cashflow situation as we reach optimum numbers in the herd. The prospect of a TB issue certainly gave me sleepless nights.

The annual test is also the time of year when we undertake our vaccination programme.

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Between myself and our student, Jess, we seem to have created a bit of a system, although there is still room for improvement.

We try to get leptospirosis, BVD and IBR vaccines done on all of the right stock at the right times, and I tend to get myself in a pickle.

Tuberculosis is currently a hot topic in the parish, with the cull zone being extended into our area.

Everyone is now aware of the costs, which has created a degree of tension as the financial sums are not insignificant.

However, TB is a big problem here and when you combine the costs involved in being shut down with the uncertainty of how long you can be closed for, surely the initial fees pale into insignificance.

This is where you wish that we as farmers could work together for what is ultimately the greater good of us all.

Five years after returning home, this is still an issue that I cannot understand and it continues to frustrate me.

We must work together. Tackling TB will boost farming’s public perception – which seems constantly under scrutiny – and also improve our individual businesses.   

Do not get me wrong: I am not suggesting that a farmer’s priorities don’t start at home, but surely with collaboration and less suspicion in the industry, we can all benefit.

Writing this in early June, I’m praying that our 20ha maize does not end up under water after 24 hours of rain – it does not even bear thinking about.

Read more about Shropshire farmer Henry Wilson