TWO Burton farmers have spoken of their devastation after the entire family dairy herd was wiped out by bovine Tuberculosis (TB).
Louis and Gillian Bothwell’s Lower Lynbrook Farm, in Newchurch, Hoar Cross, has been forced to close after an annual TB herd test reading on February 1 found 97 cows out of 150 were affected by the disease and were slaughtered straightaway.
Mrs Bothwell added: “Because 97 cows was two-thirds of the cattle, they all had to go because it was still a high risk.”
The farm boasted 150 cows, but has managed to hang on to a small fleet of calves who were grazing at a different end of the farm and passed the tests.
However, because of the risk factor, nothing is allowed to leave or be brought into the site – leaving the couple and their three young children in turmoil.
Mrs Bothwell said: “It was such a shock. We had been fine for six years and then suddenly to have this severe outbreak and it wipes our herd.
“The vet phoned me at work and said ‘You have to come home, there are a lot of cows down. Louis is taking it very badly.’”
He said: “Most of these cows have calves in them so it was just devastating to know they would have to be slaughtered.”
Mrs Bothwell added that her husband had reared these cows from birth and milked them every day seven days a week.
The Bothwells and their vets are convinced the development of the nearby St George’s Park site has disturbed the social order of local badger populations, resulting in the massive outbreak on their farm. They believe this could explain how, following six years of clear tests, so many cattle went down in one go.
However, the couple admit that they cannot prove it and a spokesman for the FA centre said the architects worked hard to conform with landscape legislation.
The Bothwells refuse to give up on their farm after they invested in a new cubicle house and parlour to expand capacity to 200 cows. They also purchased 40 young heifers to take the herd up to the new capacity. Kept separately from the main herd, they will be tested in April.
Before they can restock to replace the milking herd, the family will be required to badger proof the buildings, yard and clamps and cleanse and disinfect the farm.
Mrs Bothwell said: “We are now just waiting for April 16 when they are tested and we have to wait another 60 days after that for another test before we get the all-clear.”
If the couple do get their farm back, they are still struggling to find replacement stock.
Mrs Bothwell said: “We could buy from Europe which is completely TB free but we prefer locally home bred cattle to use.”