Animal Aid

BOVINE TB: Time for farmers to come clean

Posted 18 June 2007

Animal Aid today calls upon the farming industry to acknowledge that bovine TB is caused and spread by the often filthy, crowded and poorly ventilated conditions in which cattle are kept, and by the increasingly intensive regimes to which the animals are subjected. Around 170,000 calves and 250,000 adult cattle die or are killed every year through such conditions.

The statement by the national campaigning organisation comes as the government-appointed Independent Scientific Group announces - after a decade of research - that killing badgers will not reduce bovine TB and could make matters worse. Thirty thousand badgers have been destroyed since 1975 in a failed attempt to curb the disease. And despite virtually exterminating badgers from four counties in Ireland, a massive TB problem remains in each of those areas.

Dairy cattle are now selectively-bred to produce up to 60 litres of milk every day; and they are increasingly ‘zero grazed’, whereby hundreds are packed together in sheds with concrete floors and move about outside only in ‘loafing yards’. Around 10 % of UK cows are zero grazed, yet they produce some 30% of the total milk yield.

Bovine TB flourishes in the oppressive conditions in which so many cattle are kept. Its spread was accelerated by the countrywide movements of untested cattle - against scientific advice - following the mass slaughters associated with BSE in the early ‘90s and then foot and mouth disease some ten years later.

Modern animal farming places an intolerable burden on animals. The inevitable consequence is disease and terrible animal suffering. Killing badgers will not make this reality go away.

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