Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 23 October 2018

Government removed and destroyed our healthy cow, farmer claims

Hilary and Trevor Ogden farm in Oakridge Lynch, Gloucestershire. Stock image
Hilary and Trevor Ogden farm in Oakridge Lynch, Gloucestershire. Stock image

Olivia Rudgard

Farmers have accused Defra of breaking into their barn, seizing and killing a healthy cow over fears that it had tuberculosis.

Hilary and Trevor Ogden, who farm in Oakridge Lynch, Gloucestershire, said the Animal and Plant Health Agency, an executive Government agency, removed Cleo the cow while they were out.

Cleo and another cow, Jasmine, returned inconclusive results when the whole herd was tested for TB in July.

But the couple say their vet Rob Darvill re-tested the animals in September and gave them the all-clear.

Despite this they claim Defra insisted that Cleo should be destroyed.

They discovered on returning home last Thursday that their farm gate was off its hinges and a warrant was stuck to the front door - and the cow had been removed.

Mrs Ogden, 74, said: "We said we would send Jasmine, but not Cleo and asked for a blood test for her.

"But Defra were insistent that Cleo also be destroyed. It's like living in a police state, we've got no say in any of this."

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Cleo's calves had been put in a different barn without their mother to suckle, and are now being bottle-fed by the Ogdens.

Mrs Ogden added: "Cleo must have been very distressed and frightened.

"Our cattle are treated very well, they are very quiet and are loved by a lot of people around here, they always comment on what lovely animals they are."

Shadow minister for Defra and MP for Stroud, David Drew, described it as a "senseless slaughter" and accused agents of waiting for the Ogdens to go out before breaking into the farm.

He has written to the APHA to raise concerns.

Mr Drew said: "The farmers were simply asking for the cow to be tested again before being slaughtered.

"Instead of engaging in reasonable discussion with the Ogdens, their vet Rob Darvill, or myself, APHA agents waited for the Ogdens to go out before breaking in and removing the cow by force.

"What has this country become when we cannot engage in a sensible conversation over ways in which we might be able to bear down effectively on the transmission of disease?

"The entire process - senseless slaughter at all cost - is a shocking indictment of disregard for both animals and people that must be challenged."

Defra said that in circumstances where TB is strongly suspected following an inconclusive test, an animal must be removed to eliminate the possibility of spreading the disease.

This happens very rarely and owners are paid compensation for the loss of their cattle.

A Defra spokesman said: "Bovine TB causes devastation and distress for farmers and rural communities and that is why we have robust procedures in place to reduce risk of the disease spreading.

"England has the highest incidence of bovine TB (bTB) in Europe and we are taking strong action to deliver our 25-year strategy to beat the disease and protect the livelihoods of our dairy and beef farmers.

"This includes one of the most rigorous surveillance and testing programmes for TB in cattle herds in the world, which means we can find disease earlier and deal with it more robustly."


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