Devon farmer Richard Haddock 'forced out by TB'

Richard Haddock Richard Haddock warns more herds will be destroyed without a targeted badger cull

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Devon Farmer Richard Haddock knows the devastating effect tuberculosis can have on cattle.

The last outbreak of TB on his farm at Coleton Barton last Christmas cost him £98,000 in lost profits.

He has now sold the 320-acre beef farm and blames the disease.

"We bought the farm in 1998 when it was bankrupt and we rebuilt it," Mr Haddock said.

"It was a hell of a wrench to sell, but TB started taking all the profits."

Bovine TB, which can be spread by badgers, has led to the slaughter of tens of thousands of cattle in recent years, costing the UK economy about £100m per year.

Culling of badgers could be piloted in parts of England next spring, with wider implementation in 2013, the government has announced.

The aim is to curb cattle tuberculosis, which badgers can spread to livestock, but the proposal has been opposed by some, including the Badgers Trust.

Mr Haddock said the source of bovine TB needed to be tackled.

He said TB was a "huge problem" in south Devon.

"You think everything's all right and then we go down again," he added.

He has now switched his operation to two tenanted farms, going from a total of 450 cattle to 60 which he hopes he can keep free of TB.

According to figures from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), 1,844 cattle in Devon were slaughtered from January to March as a result of being tested positive for TB.

In 2010 a total of 5,653 cattle were slaughtered in Devon.

Mr Haddock said: "No-one is sure where TB comes from but badgers are probably the largest spreader of it.

Badger vaccination Conservationists say vaccinating badgers is more effective at tackling TB

"We don't want to eradicate badgers, but at the moment bovines are being eradicated and slaughtered and we are not tackling the source of the disease."

He said no farmers wanted to see the end of badgers.

"We want to see targeted culls and, in time, proper vaccination," he said.

"In the meantime we are fiddling and we are losing the bovine herds in this country."

Jack Reedy from the Badgers Trust said: "I can sympathise with Richard and all farmers who face bovine TB.

"But I think they have been badly misled.

"There is solid science that says if you cull badgers in restricted areas you are going to make the situation worse.

"If you disturb the population of one area, it tends to cause others to move in.

"And if there are still badgers with TB in that area, badgers coming in add to the threat."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    I read last April that this farmer had quit Coleton Barton for different reasons - pressure from a quarter of a million walkers annually rendering the site nworkable as a profitable agricultural concern.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    As all herds of black and white cows are all cousins it's easy to see why a virus or other problem can be passed from one herd to another. It seems that farmers are very quick to blame another source for their problems, a bit like fishermen who having been happy to totally over fish an area then try to say it's not their fault. Instead of cheap blaming farmers, put your own house in order first!

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Basic maths: animals + profit = cruelty. Being 'forced out' means he was losing money. Richard says two things: this is all about profit, and he doesn't know if badgers spread TB.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    I don't understand why so much publicity is given to the uninformed mistaken opinions of an ex-farmer, when as Jack Reedy of the Badger Trust points out, the science indicates that the proposed culling method might make things worse? Sir David Attenborough also recently made the same point. Let's get this clear, the science says that this won't solve the problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    If you can PROVE that badgers cause the outbreaks then you are right. But noone can prove it, so it is a moot point.


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