Gloucestershire vet writes of bovine TB 'disaster'

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A Gloucestershire vet dealing with cattle infected with TB has described the turmoil of "condemning cows to death".

Rob Darvill, from Benson and Babb Vets in Cirencester, wrote a letter to fellow vets, which was published in the Veterinary Times.

It was then posted on social media by the NFU and online by TB Free England.

Mr Darvill likened his position to "watching a disaster unfold... and you're powerless to stop it."

"They aren't just random cows that you're condemning to death," he wrote.

"They're cows that you recognise. Cows that you've been out to calf or to treat.

"I can't put into words how difficult it is to be the bearer of that kind of news."

'Cross your fingers'

Mr Darvill's letter, which has been read online more than 10,000 times, also refers to the dilemma faced by vets when a TB reactor is detected in a herd of healthy cattle.

"It's a disease you always hope you're never going to find in a herd," he added.

"And when you start getting large numbers of reactors, you start crossing your fingers and hoping that the next cow, and the next one, will be clear.

"Because you're watching a disaster unfold in front of you and you're powerless to stop it, or provide any hope or comfort."

A badger cull is due to take place later this year in parts of Somerset and Gloucestershire to try to stop the spread of bovine TB among cattle.

The pilot cull will run over a six-week period any time between now and the autumn.

More than 5,000 badgers could be killed.

Animal welfare and wildlife campaigners oppose the cull, during which trained marksmen will shoot badgers when the animals venture out of their setts at night to find food.

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