Farmer Focus: Willian Slinger

A RECENT SPELL of dry weather gave us the opportunity to roll some fields most needing it. This is the first time I can remember rolling being before the end of lambing.

The ground was certainly ready for it and we look forward to seeing a marked improvement when grass eventually starts growing in another month or so. Of course, all stock are still housed at the moment.

 We have recently been much exercised by the requirement to provide health plans for stock. It is sometimes difficult to ascertain where the actual welfare of stock comes on the agenda.

The principle requirement in producing these plans is too often ticking the right boxes in the right order, rather than achieving the desired outcome of the schemes, whatever that may be.

 Of course, if we were at all serious about animal welfare, we would have had a full and open inquiry into the foot-and-mouth outbreak and come up with practical answers about how to tackle this sort of thing in future.

Nevertheless, I was interested to study the recently published proposals putting forward a TB strategy for the next 10 years.

We are lucky to have lived in what was until recently a relatively TB free area. Perhaps it is not just luck – until recently we have also lived in a relatively badger free area. However, the unmistakable evidence of badger activity has never been more obvious than in the past 12 months.

None of this would matter were it not for the evident relationship between TB incidence in cattle and the role of badgers in contributing to the wildlife reserve.

The alarming spread in the incidence of bovine TB recently is a matter of serious concern for two reasons. First, because of the obvious problem itself and second, moreover, because of what the response to it tells us about the prevailing attitudes to agricultural production in this country.

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