Tag Archives: animal welfare

Culling Badgers will not stop bovine TB

badgercullprotestThe Green Party recognises that bovine TB is a serious problem, that it threatens the livelihood of many farmers, causes undue stress and costs the taxpayer around £50 million a year.  The problem has become progressively worse since the early 1980’s and successive governments have failed to develop a satisfactory policy to combat it. This Coalition Government is no exception. As the Defra website understates: A number of different measures have been tried to control the TB in cattle by culling badgers. None of these were entirely successful.  Put more simply, policies, largely reliant on culling, but including movement restrictions and herd testing, have failed.  The measure of this failure has been the progressive spread of the disease from a few remaining residual pockets in the West Country in the late 1970’s to most agricultural areas of mainland Britain.

The disease has been spread by the movement of infected cattle.  As Environment Secretary Owen Paterson says, “Bovine TB is spreading at an alarming rate and causing real devastation to our beef and dairy industry.”  Such a rapid spread could not be caused by badgers who, if undisturbed, will remain in a restricted locality for the whole of their relatively short lives. There is evidence to show that the level of disease on badgers lags that in cattle in the same area.  If badgers were causing the spread, the disease would be higher in their population than in cattle.  In addition, infected cattle are found in areas with no badger population. It is true that badgers can pass the infection back to cattle, but most infection is cattle to cattle and always has been.

The fixation that some farmers, rural vets and politicians have with the badger to cattle transmission has prevented the adoption of the effective control regime that this country needs.  Because  of opposition to badger culling, Professor John Krebs was asked to evaluate its effectiveness 20 years ago.  He  found that there was a lack of scientific information on which to base recommendations and he advised that a properly conducted study of bTB in this country be carried out.  This study took 10 years and its final report, a rigorous, peer reviewed scientific evaluation of the disease in the UK was published in 2008.  It contained two key conclusions, these were:

First, while badgers are clearly a source of cattle TB, careful evaluation of our own and others’ data indicates that badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain.

Second, weaknesses in cattle testing regimes mean that cattle themselves contribute significantly to the persistence and spread of disease in all areas where TB occurs, and in some parts of Britain are likely to be the main source of infection.

Further, the report recommended that:  Scientific findings indicate that the rising incidence of disease can be reversed, and geographical spread contained, by the rigid application of cattle-based control measures alone. These measures include improved bio-security on farms to prevent contact between badgers and cattle, regular testing of cattle, and strictly controlled movements linked to the testing regime so that no infected cattle are moved and an improvement in the reliability of the bTB test.  The clear message is that culling is unnecessary and can be counter-productive.

It should be noted that this ten year study included a scientifically based Randomised Badger Cull Trial designed to test the effectiveness of culling in both infected areas and in clear areas to check the spread. The report stated: RBCT results showed that reactive culling [in response to an outbreak of the disease] increased, rather than reduced, the incidence of TB in cattle, making this unacceptable as a future policy option.  On Proactive culling, designed to stop the spread of the disease in clear areas the report found: reduced TB incidence in cattle in culled areas. However, …. this beneficial effect on cattle breakdowns was offset by an increased incidence of the disease in surrounding un-culled areas.

KCC2008Wildwood161The Green Party accepts these scientific findings and strongly opposes the new badger-cull pilots  as contrary to the clear scientific evidence; we also have significant animal-welfare, public-safety and ethical concerns.  Caroline Allen, a practising vet who speaks on animal welfare issues has said, ‘..the measure of success of the cull is a reduction in TB of around 15%, i.e. leaving 85% of the disease untouched, this all seems completely nonsensical.’  She also noted that the Government has cut funding for vaccination trials.  This decision is also nonsensical. Greens support the decision by the Wales Assembly to scrap the cull and fund a scientific vaccination trial.  We strongly support those independent groups, including Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, who are raising funds from the public to run a five year trial of vaccination in the badger population. We endorse the Trust’s strategy to control the disease through vaccination and increased biosecurity on farms and call on the Government to provide funding for measures such as electric fencing and badger gates to segregate cattle and badgers.  The Government must also increase funding for an oral badger vaccination and for improved cattle testing.  It must work with the EU to get approval for the use of the available cattle vaccine and to get increased funding for improved treatments.  In addition the movement restrictions on animals from infected areas must be more strictly enforced. 

If farmers are serious about bringing bTB under control in the UK, they must accept the science, stop treating badgers as a scapegoat and adopt this packet of measures.  They require a lead from Government and from the NFU.  If these bodies will not give this lead, then farmers like so many other section of society  must turn to those who will give the lead needed and vote for a change of leadership, both of the NFU and of the country.

Please Sign the anti-cull e-petition and get your friends to do the same.  The No 10 petition to stop the cull has now passed 220,000 signatures.

But the more signatures it gets the stronger the message it sends to the Government so keep signing!http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/38

Fore more information on the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust Vaccination Trial go to:

http://www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/badgers

Written by Mike Shipley taken from the East Midlands Green Party site

Proposed Foston Pig Farm – Wildlife Survey

PIC2UK Company, Midland Pig Producers (MPP) has applied (application CW9/0311/174) to build an indoor pig factory farm on a green field site near the village of Foston, Derbyshire. If the plans are approved it would be one of the largest factory farms in the UK, containing 2,500 mother pigs (sows) and around 25,000 pigs, with 1,000 going for slaughter each week. The site is currently a super green field and when they have finished building it will contain 40 acres of steel, concrete and tarmac.  The photograph shows one of the trees at Foston that may be cut down.  Another larger tree hosts a bat roost.  You can find out more on www.pigbusiness.co.uk

Jim Davies from the Foston Community Forum has asked for assistance with doing an impact assessment where the proposed mega pig farm is being planned. 

Jim says:

“Things are hotting up in the campaign, with a potential for the decision to be made in July / August.   We think too little work has been done on the surveying of local wildlife. On or around the site we have bats, herons, kingfisher, butterflies and potentially crayfish in the brook so we need to find some wildlife experts or protection groups.  If you have any contacts in that direction please could you let me know?”

A Green Party member, David Foster, is willing to assist by making a video/photographic record of all the wildlife likely to be affected. Would any other member be willing to help in any way with the survey of wildlife?  If so, please get in touch with David (david121@ntlworld.com or mobile 0791 4537589) or Jim Davies jim@fostoncommunityforum.org.uk

Register your Objection with Derbyshire County Council – you can also register your opposition to the planning application on the Derbyshire County Council website.  Members of the public and outside organisations can add their input up to 3 days before the decision.

 

This Cull is Simply Wrong.

 Once again the Coalition Government flies in the face of sound evidence and gives in to simplistic right wing opinion, this time as expressed by the Country Landowners. They want to kill badgers, they are generous donors to the Tory party, so they are to be allowed to kill badgers as a reward.

Culling badgers to control bovine Tb has no scientific basis, Lord Krebs, who led the recent Badger Cull trials has described it as ‘crazy’, his report showed that culling is ineffective and runs the risk of increasing rates of infection. Analysis of the cull trials in southern England by the Medical Research Council showed that rates of cattle infection increased in the cull areas. Disturbing badger clans by culling them only increases badger mobility, an effective way of speeding up the spread of the infection.

The proposed culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset are not ‘evidence led’ as the landowners claim, neither are they being scientifically planned. To be regarded as successful, the culls require 70% of the badgers in the control area to be killed, yet the landowners do not propose to carry out a population survey, so they plan to kill 70% of an unknown figure – utter nonsense.

For the cull to have any hope of having an impact on bovine Tb, an area of 150 square kilometres will need to be controlled for a period of four years, with clear access to at least 70% of this area for the culling teams. With shooting to be done at night, the safety issues involved are clearly considerable, and a 100% clean kill rate is highly unlikely, so many badgers will be wounded, to die later. But of course, the consortium of land owners who are organising the cull will have a good excuse to close all public access to this area. Probably they also plan to hunt foxes while they are at it! They will also doubtless claim the cost of the cull against their tax, so in the end it is the taxpayer, who mostly oppose the cull of badgers, who will pay for the killing. The landowners set as their target a reduction of the incidence of Tb of 15%. So at the end of the cull, they will still have 85% of the disease untouched, what then?

The scientific evidence is clear, Lord Krebs large scale trial of culling concluded that “badger culling cannot meaningfully contribute to the future control of cattle Tb”. His report recognised that the main cause of the spread of bovine Tb is from cattle to cattle transmission, therefore substantial reductions of the disease in cattle requires improving cattle-based control measures, including husbandry, transportation and vaccination. These measures must be the focus of funding and research, not another culling ‘trial’. In response to these recommendations, the government has chosen to reduce the funding of badger vaccination trials that began in 2006, while at the same time it pays out £millions of tax payer’s money to compensate farmers, [£500,000 in 2009.]

There are a multitude of reasons why this the cull is wrong; the scientific evidence does not warrant it, there are significant concerns over animal welfare, and public safety. For us there are ethical concerns, do we share this planet, or do the rich and powerful have the right to take it as their own and do as they please? The cull demonstrates once again that in our economic system, nature has no intrinsic value, if it can’t earn profit, it must be swept aside.

Sadly the badger has become the scapegoat for this disease, which the Green Party recognise as a serious disease of the dairy herd. It has to be properly tackled in order to safeguard the health and welfare of cattle and the livelihood of the dairy farmer. The Government, DEFRA and the NFU, all who choose to ignore the science and continue to claim that culling is effective, must now accept the scientific evidence face up to the reality that at least 85% of the disease is caused by cattle to cattle transmission. That requires proper funding for the necessary scientific research and development of treatments and husbandry systems. Unless this is done, the disease will continue to spread as will the distress it causes to farmers and their herds.

Mike Shipley 20/9/12

Foston Mega-piggery – update.

UK Company, Midland Pig Producers (MPP) is applying (application CW9/0311/174) to build an indoor pig factory farm on a green field site near the village of Foston, South Derbyshire. If the plans are approved it would be one of the largest factory farms in the UK, containing 2,500 mother pigs (sows) and around 25,000 pigs, with 1,000 going for slaughter each week.

The County Council’s decision whether or not to give permission for this development has been postponed as the Council await more evidence on odour and noise to be submitted by Midland Pig Producers.

In responding to a national campaign against intensive pig units by Pig Business, the developers, claimed that objectors were mostly from outside the area, and that there was no serious local opposition to the proposal.  Derbyshire Greens did not believe this and we decided to go and ask residents of both Foston and neighbouring Scropton what they thought.  David Foster organised a doorstep survey and went off to find out local opinion.  In all David and his team of surveyors spoke to 67 people, 85% of whom said that they were opposed to factory farming.  Of those, 65 were meat eaters and 97% of these agreed that it was important for farm animals to be reared in a humane way, 95% of them saying that they would be prepared to pay a little more for this.

In addition to the moral issue of animal welfare, the campaign against mega animal units believes that they can pose a threat to human health, and also to traditional methods of farming and the employment that these provide. 79% of people questioned shared our concern about the human health implications of factory farming.  87% agreed that such huge scale animal units did pose a threat to traditional farming.

From this, we conclude that the people likely to be most affected by the Foston development do have concerns about these mega units.  Their concerns can’t be dismissed as ‘nimbyism’, they are concerned about the welfare of farm animals, and they do want to see humane methods of animal husbandry.  In this they aren’t alone, a 2006 survey of public opinion about animal welfare carried out by ‘Eurobarometer’ for the European Commission found that a majority of consumers rated this as an important issue with 63% of respondents saying that it would influence their purchasing preference.

The Green Party is pledged to end factory farming.  We regard it as unsustainable and morally indefensible.  We believe that the five freedoms of the Animal Welfare Act, 2007 should apply to farm animals.  These freedoms are:

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst,
  • Freedom from discomfort
  • Freedom from pain, injury and disease
  • Freedom to behave normally
  • Freedom from fear and distress

We contend that intensive animal units are incompatible with these freedoms accorded to pet animals in law.  To us, it is perverse to deny them to those animals who happen to be classified as farm animals.

If you don’t want to see massive US-scale pig factories entering the UK, then make your voice heard by registering your opposition directly to the planners on the Derbyshire County Council website.

For more information and sample letters of objection, go to the Pig Business website,

http://www.pigbusiness.co.uk/pig-business-events/foston-june-2011/take-action/

Note that objections based on animal welfare issues will be ruled as invalid by the planners.  Grounds for objection include loss of visual amenity, smell, noise, and the impact of traffic.  It is worth mentioning regional issues such as loss of jobs in traditional farming and the fact that such massive developments are unsustainable and have a high carbon footprint.

You can also make your voice heard through the Pig Business online petition:

http://www.change.org/petitions/object-to-the-introduction-of-huge-factory-farms-into-the-uk

The most important thing you can do is to always buy from ethical sources

The Coalition Government Attacks Animal Welfare Legislation

The ConDem Government has mounted a major assault on animal welfare legislation. Spearheaded by Agriculture Minister James Paice, who owns a farm in Cambridgeshire, they have initiated a series of secretive moves that will scrap or compromise many laws relating to animal welfare, some of which have yet to come into force.

Legislation on de-beaking hens is likely to be delayed indefinitely, allowing the practice of removing part of a chicken’s beak to continue. This is done to control feather plucking in crowded conditions; feather plucking in birds is a sign of stress. The RSPCA described the practice as “an insult to hens’ welfare.”

The use of battery cages was due to be banned across the EU from 2012, but despite having had 10 years to prepare for the ban, the industry is lobbying hard to indefinitely postpone the enforcement date. The Government is attempting to alter the European legislation to allow the sale of battery eggs within the country of origin. They also plan to scrap a law to ban keeping game birds, reared for so-called sport, in small breeding cages outside, in which they have little room to move. Animal Aid’s campaign manager Kate Fowler said: “The Coalition Government has wasted no time in removing a raft of popular measures that provided important protection for farmed and wild animals.”

The Department of the Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has quietly dropped a series of charges against abattoir operators for animal cruelty. Footage, caught by  Animal Aid, showed abattoir workers kicking cattle, pigs and sheep, but DEFRA said that such evidence would not hold up in court as it was obtained by trespassing. Tim Smith, head of the Food Standards Agency, which enforces slaughterhouse standards, said, “the cruelty on show is the worst I have seen.”

DEFRA has also postponed a ban on using wild animals in circuses, preferring instead to negotiate ‘self regulation’ for the industry. There are currently some 40 tigers, elephants, zebras, and other animals forced to do tricks for circuses in the UK. The ban was first put forward by Labour minister Jim Fitzpatrick after a poll showed 95% of the public supported the idea.

Caroline Lucas MP, Vice Chair of the All Party Group on Animal Welfare and former President of the European Parliament’s cross-party Animal Welfare Intergroup, is one of 143 politicians who have now signed a parliamentary Early Day Motion (EDM) 403 calling for the wild animal ban to be implemented. She said – “There is simply no justification in the 21st century for the continued use of wild animals in circuses. I share the concerns of Animal Defense International and other animal welfare groups, that self-regulation of animal welfare in the circus industry is doomed to fail. The Government can only halt the abuse of captive animals kept for so-called ‘entertainment’ via an outright ban, which polls suggest the majority of British people support.”

Caroline has also signed EDM942 – Not In My Cuppa And Cows Belong In Fields. This is critical of the proposal to develop an American style super dairy in Lincolnshire. A factory originally designed to hold 8,000 cows, although local opposition has forced the developers to scale this down to 4,000. The concern is that with a deliberate weakening of animal welfare legislation, the condition for cattle within these factories will be no better than for battery hens or in intensive pig units. With animals kept under stress and in such close proximity, disease will always be a high risk. In the event of an epidemic, of course the taxpayer will bail out the farmers who have willfully neglected the welfare of their animals. One such disease of cattle that results from poor husbandry in crowded conditions is bovine TB.

Farmers like to blame badgers for TB, and they have successfully lobbied the farmer-minister to continue with the annual cull of badgers, a protected species.  80% of bovine TB transmission is from cattle to cattle. Even if the cull made badgers extinct in the UK, TB would remain a major cattle disease. Culling breaks up stable badger communities, displaced animals enter new areas, so spreading the disease. Badgers are a scapegoat for poor husbandry, and sadly, some people like hunting and killing them – they think it a manly sport. These people have the ear of the Minister of Agriculture.

As indeed do those who enjoy chasing and killing foxes. The Conservative Party has said that it will overturn the hunting ban.

All of this is being done in the name of ‘cutting red tape’, scaling back Government and ‘letting business get on with business’. Unfortunately, agri-buisness has little regard for animal welfare; animals are nothing more than ‘products’. Wild animals are there for our benefit, to use as we see fit, to destroy if they threaten profits. To the country landowners, concern for their welfare is sentimentality, the preserve of woolly-minded liberalism.

Greens beg to differ. The way we treat animals says much about our society, just as the way a person treats animals says much about that person. Ghandi said – “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

Cruelty should neither be tolerated nor treated lightly. Consider the words of humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer: “Anyone who has accustomed himself to regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of worthless human lives.” Do we see parallels between this rolling back on animal protection legislation and the growing disregard for the welfare of the most vulnerable in society?”

There is growing evidence that cruelty is an indicator of deeper psychological disorders. According to Robert K. Ressler, who developed profiles of serial killers for the FBI, “Murderers … very often start out by killing and torturing animals as kids.” In fact, the American Psychiatric Association considers animal cruelty one of the diagnostic criteria of conduct disorder. FBI Supervisory Special Agent Allen Brantley takes the view that “animal cruelty… is not a harmless venting of emotion in a healthy individual; this is a warning sign…”

To quote Albert Schweitzer again – “We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals.  Animals suffer as much as we do.  True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them.  It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it.  Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace.”

Cruelty, and the toleration of cruelty, be it in the name of profit, sport or ideology, should not be accepted. As St. Francis of Assisi recognised – “If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”

For more information on campaigns against animal cruelty visit:

The League against Cruel Sports – www.league.org.uk

The Badger Protection League – www.badgerprotectionleague.com.

Compassion in World Farming – http://www.ciwf.org.uk

[Mike Shipley 5 December 2010]