Saturday cartoons by Ralph Underhill




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55 Replies to “Saturday cartoons by Ralph Underhill”

  1. Re comments on the word Toff - I am amazed at your resilience. Do you REALLY read all the rubbish that folk post as comments on here?

  2. Peter, surely that is a blatant attempt to flame the discussion when you post under a separate blog comment? However, there are lots of things that appear that we do not agree with but is it not better to explain why you think it is rubbish? For example, I could easily read into this that you think my attitudes to life are rubbish but believe me, had you lived my life, you probably would not have such a positive outlook. I don't look for sympathy despite the setbacks but I will look for the challenge of finding my out again. Is this relevant? Well yes, my comments drew off my life experiences and at this stage, I am not sure which comments you thought were rubbish. 🙂

  3. About time he gid a cartoon on all the missing Peregrines on the Red Grouse Moors
    Hang on though it's not funny.

  4. While we have seen a descent into tedious snarkiness and ad hominemnessness the Real off-screen World has moved on and as pointed out in the meejar by Sir Gentleman Jim DEFRA has been downgraded by loss of ministerial posts to the extent that it is now on a par with Culture Media and the Football Results. Just sayin', like

  5. Unstirred by the royal birth, Owen's marvellous comment which must surely become a classic of Government (they'd never have got away with it in Yes Minister - truth is surely weirder than fiction)has stirred the poet laureate into verse - the animal kingdom is rising ! See todays Guardian & no doubt on line.

    1. Yes, even Sir Humphrey would have drawn the line at that one.

      As political gaffes go, its up there somewhere between Gummer's beef burger episode and John Prescott's immortal statement: "The green belt is a Labour achievement and we intend to build on it."

      Interesting blog by Damien Carrington in yesterday's Grauniad.

      1. Educated beyond the level of Common Sense

        Here we go again – Christl's – in a panic - and Carrington's still talking copy-cat rubbish

        Just a few months ago Christl and her colleague Jim stated that without regular topping-up from sick badgers TB in cattle would fizzle out – it's just not sustainable without - they said - but of course everybody knew that because that's what happens everywhere else in the world (unless they've go a wildlife reservoir such as badger)

        Green Kiss Mitchel Kao produced a paper stating that (using real world live data)

        “Both badgers and livestock movements have been implicated in contributing to the ongoing epidemic of bovine tuberculosis (BTB) in British cattle. However, the relative contributions of these and other causes are not well quantified. We used cattle movement data to construct an individual (premises)-based model of BTB spread within Great Britain, accounting for spread due to recorded cattle movements and other causes.

        “Outbreak data for 2004 were best explained by a model attributing 16% of herd infections directly to cattle movements, and a further 9% unexplained, potentially including spread from unrecorded movements.

        “The best-fit model assumed low levels of cattle-to-cattle transmission. The remaining 75% of infection was attributed to local effects (Badgers) within specific high-risk areas. Annual and biennial testing is mandatory for herds deemed at high risk of infection, as is pre-movement testing from such herds. The herds identified as high risk in 2004 by our model are in broad agreement with those officially designated as such at that time.”

        So 75% = badger
        16% = movement (of cattle infected by badgers?)
        9% = other
        cattle-to-cattle = ZERO

        And goes on to say “…........ our estimate of the relatively low importance of cattle movements should be robust. It is also consistent with prior results showing that cattle testing alone can control cattle-to-cattle spread (Kao et al. 1997), and that few breakdown herds in low-risk areas contain infected homebred cattle (Gopal et al. 2006).


        During the RBCT by ISG Bourne instigated a C2C transmission experiment – over some 4 years involving 400 cattle – cut a long story short – during this period transmission was NOT detected (over 1,000 tests)

        This is despite Bourne's accusation (not based on (proven) science) that during the FMD epidemic – C2C transmission (AND don't laugh) C2B transmission was rife – but of course they were unable to replicate this – even by identifying such a cow and moving it into the 2.8 million pounds Pathman Project – they had four years to achieve what Bourne said had happened in 9 months everywhere across the board in the SW.

        Of course – following the FMD epidemic – TB was transferred up to the North – Cumbria etc – but if you look now – where is the big problem? Cumbria – no! Its still where the badgers are!

        Likewise – 'spoliogotypes' – each strain of TB has a different DNA makeup – this is geographically-based – move a TB cow from say Cornwall to Cumbria – its strain type will stick out like a sore thumb from the local strains – if C2C was a problem the strain types would be kaleidoscoping throughout the UK – but they dont – so C2C and C2B appears not to be the problem

        The basic problem is that Christl is still using the RBCT data which is based on FICTION – more in my BADGER TB – UNMASKED (SOON)

        Delusion or Deceit?

        1. Brilliant Trim, looking forward to your BADGER TB-UNMASKED, hopefully in it you will discuss the 9% "OTHER" which we can assume is the condition in which the cattle are kept in perhaps? Because those damp/drafty/dark cattle sheds aren't perfect breeding ground for Tb. Maybe also in your report/blog you can also explain why DEFRA refuse to do autopsy on any of the badgers killed in the cull zone. At the same time you can pose the question "Why won't DEFRA autopsy the culled badgers" or perhaps "Are DEFRA scared that the actual numbers of Badgers infected with Btb lower then first expected". Or would that be to impartial?
          Looking at your comment if every single last badger was wiped out in the UK, Btb would still be a problem thanks to the "OTHER" 9% would it not?

          1. Douglas

            You'd better read my bit again!

            If there were no badgers at all - the current cattle test and slaughter policy would eventually fizzle out - it's not self-sustaining in cattle

          2. "damp/drafty/dark cattle sheds"

            The presence of viable infectious disease organisms is required. Despite the fashionable belief in spontaneous generation.

  6. Interesting that scientists from Imperial College London produced a paper now stating Badgers responsible directly or indirectly for 52% of BTB infection in cattle.

      1. Prior to the the RBCT Bourne was told by MAFF that attribution was 75% badger

        This was ignored by Bourne and treated as non-scientific and anecdotal – so what did he do instead?

        He “guessed” cattle to cattle (1/3 rd) badgers (1/3 rd) cattle movements (1/3 rd)

        - instead of ZERO, 75%, 16% (+ other) – and all his calculations were based these lies.

        Science – what science?

        And vaccination Mark? I quote TB website:-

        "Our potential jabbers continue, posing the question 'can vaccination work?' and answer their own question, more with hope than accuracy:

        "Laboratory and field studies have demonstrated that vaccination of badgers by injection with BCG significantly reduces the progression, severity and excretion of TB infection."

        Define significantly? The actual vaccination trial referred to above, achieved a reduction of bacterium shed of 13 percent. Well hallelujah for that. And hard on the heels of that spurious 74% efficacy claim, with no mention of the pre-screening of the 844 candidates in the field trial, came the usual Defra fudge "the data should not be used to support this claim." It seems it was then and it is now.

        But this week, the three main farming unions of Wales delivered a joint letter to the Welsh Assembly Government, pointing out that despite 'intensive cattle measures', their farmers were losing cattle to TB in increasing numbers. They also reminded their government that the advice on badger vaccination had been updated.

        Specifically, in November 2011 a memorandum by those involved in the most recent vaccine trials made it clear that the work to date

        “…cannot tell us the degree of vaccine efficacy”; that “A definitive figure for efficacy could only be determined by field-testing the vaccine on a large scale over a long period of time. Several thousand badgers would need to be killed to determine the presence and severity of TB at detailed post-mortem examination”; and that “…we do not know how deployment of the badger vaccine in the field would affect TB incidence in cattle.”

        And in the absence of large scale field trials, modelling has been used to assess the possible impact of a vaccination programme. And the best effort of these electronics ... 

        "... predicted a 9% reduction in confirmed cattle incidences by the end of a five year vaccination operation, and “an overall reduction in confirmed cattle herd breakdowns of 19% over 10 years within the core area, compared with 34% for a cull and 40% for a cull with ring vaccination.”

        Mark – do you really understand the position re badger vaccination? It would appear not! I suppose your 'badgerist' ignorance on this matter shouldn't surprise me!

        1. Well I re-read your comment but still don't understand WHAT the other 9% of infection is, please elaborate for me, one of those ignorant badgerist. But, just maybe it isn't ignorance, maybe it's cynism of both governement/farmers/scientist. After all YOU still haven't told us as a pro badger culler why DEFRA refuse outright to autopsy the badgers, if for example those dead badgers were tested and lets say 90% were infected then the cynism would disappear, however the fact testing has benn ruled out has to make one wonder "WHY". What's being hidden? Is it the fact very few badgers in the cull zone are infected or are the culled badgers not being culled so humanily? Will you answer those question because as you suggested those answers don't appear to be in your comments...or are you waiting for the Daily Mail to do a story so you can qoute your latest opinion?

    1. Filbert in response to your comment "The presence of viable infectious disease organisms is required. Despite the fashionable belief in spontaneous generation."....well we know there is a presence of said disease,how large of infection is in dispute, some DEFRA,DAILY MAIL,TRIM etc say it's a "resevoir" but with no testing of the culled badgers, how do we know for sure? But seeming as there is a problem why don't cattle farmers do more to protect the livestock like improving living conditions, making the areas where cattle are fed/bedded down less likely that an infected animal can get in?

      1. In reference to Statutes of Limitations, for the highest courts in the UK there is no Statutes of Limitations, Statutes of Limitations may apply to libel etc but not crimes like rape,murder etc so if a Wildlife Crime was to appear in County Court then no Statutes of Limitations doesn't apply....

      2. "... we know there is a presence of said disease ..."

        There are many farmers who have successfully striven to keep their livestock free of diseases, in many cases by operating strictly closed herds. Until ... when TB reactors appear in such a herd it indicates exposure to infection. It isn't an indicator of dampness, draughtiness or darkness.

        When controlling infectious disease, eradication of inoculum to below a critical frequency is the preventive measure of choice. Exclusion of vectors is often impractical - mozzie nets against Schmallenberg, bluetongue? - and in the case of BtB invokes 365-day housing, which is v unpopular with Gaianurd readers, who are all experts on animal welfare.

        1. filbert - do you or others, know anything about the risk of herd-herd transfer between cattle in adjacent fields, though those fields are on different farms? I've wondered, truly wondered, whether infection is possible across a fence or hedgerow. So how 'closed' are 'closed' herds?

          I write as one who is completely sure that badgers play an important role in TB transfer.

          1. "how 'closed' are 'closed' herds?"

            There is an element of string length measurement. I have wondered also, but more over the question of sires and daughters and the necessity to introduce new lines - a cattle breeder might happen by here with some answers. AI works for dairy but I don't know about the frequency of AI in beef herds - I suspect it is low. I also don't know whether 'closed' means no exhibiting at shows - a necessity for a pedigree breeder I would have thought.

            Over the fence? Again - don't know - but that would be part of the cattle to cattle fraction. If I were a actual farmer I would prevent my stock having such contact - Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis (Johne's disease - think Joe-Knees), bovine viral diarrhoea, infectious bovine rhinotracheitis, mastitis are more nasties which make a good case for maintaining biosecurity. Which is difficult when walkers insist on transferring excrement from one farm to another.

          2. filbert - thank you. Yes, of course it would be part of the 'cattle to cattle' fraction but has it been counted as such? I'm not an expert. I have heard folk talking of 'closed herds' as though that must mean that any TB in them is due to wildlife - and I was wondering how often that is entirely justified. Ernest's response seems to suggest that 'often but not always' would be a fair response to that question.

          3. 'So how 'closed' are 'closed' herds?'

            A good question and I suppose the simple answer is some are much more 'closed' than others. In my experience it seems to be that some cattle breeders appear to have differing definitions of the term 'closed herd'.

            I regard a true 'closed' herd as one where it is impossible for cattle to come into contact or even relatively close contact with other cattle or livestock, in addition to no cattle being added into the herd from elsewhere and only imported semen is used to add genetic diversity.

            I know some 'closed' herds farms where nature of the land lends itself very well to being fully 'closed' e.g. wide natural barriers such as rivers and woodland as well as man-made barriers such as roads, railway lines and canals or even by virtue of being surrounded by arable farmland with no neighbours who keep livestock.

            However I have been on a couple of farms that have claimed to have 'closed' herd status, where cattle are only separated from other herds by a fence-line or gappy hedgerow. Clearly on these farms the term closed merely refers to be fact that no cattle are imported into the farm from elsewhere.

            Some of the cretinous bafoons that are churned out of Cirencester really do not help this situation. When letting-out land and breaking-up tenant farms, many seem to pay scant regard to the issues of herd-to-herd disease transmission. One of my clients who farms in an area rife with bTB but thus far has not had his cattle infected with it, previously had only one neighbouring livestock farmer. Thanks to the incompetence of a brain dead land agent, from this spring onwards he will now have four neighbours who keep cattle!

            PS, of course badgers play an important role in bTB transfer, does anybody seriously deny this ?

        2. 'It isn't an indicator of dampness, draughtiness or darkness.'

          I keep getting told by vets that buildings cannot be too draughty for cattle, the draughtier the better in order to reduce respiratory problems.

          Under Cross Compliance farmers are obliged to follow strict rules regarding housing under SMRs 16 & 18. However many farmers still have buildings which pass muster under XC, however they still feel these buildings are inadequate for modern cattle housing. Funds permitting they would love to raise these decrepit old buildings to the floor and start afresh with spanking brand new, all singing, all dancing buildings that would offer a very high standard of animal welfare, energy/water efficiency, improved manure collection and storage. Sadly they are rarely allowed to thanks to the distorted priorities of the planning system and those members of the public who attached far too much importance to the landscape value of a 1920's cattle shed.

          1. Comments are spot on EM - RAC buffoons may however object to demotion to 'bafoons'. I like it though but.

            The opinionated planners who get the Firsts for buffoonery are them what have floated like draff to the dizzy heights of the National Parks. Their obsession with the vernacular of the past is touching, given that no-one was bothered about it when the past was the present, and materials for a new shed were got by demolishing the old one. Anyone for real granite walling and real slate roofs? Quadruple costs? "Not my problem as I now have another meeting at the office to decide on our regional biscuit and Earl Grey policy going forward".

        3. Hang on Filbert how do you know if a Guardian reader is not an expert on animal welfare, and what does it matter? I know of two vets, one rspca inspector and even a sheep farmer who read the Guardian, doesn't quite fit your stereotype though does it? The reason I use the Daily Mail in my comment is because a quick look online at the Daily Mail and you can see many comments that seemed to have been lifted by one individual on here, hey Trim!

          1. "how do you know ...?"

            Because they all are, including your two vets etc. Indeed I would be surprised if they weren't. I'm not sure about the rspca inspector - aren't they the ones that shoot and drown sheep and throw blood up the walls and photograph the carnage for their press releases? That reminds me - nice Mr Heath covered all that up. Must write to him now that he has more time to spare.

          2. Hi Douglas - the only daily newspaper I take is Saturday's Telegraph - mainly for the radio and TV

            What the scientists Green Kiss Mitchell Kao stated was that they were unable to say with absolute confidence the source of infection for 9% of the incidences – the other 91% they were confident about - but they say ….... this 9% - potentially includes “spread from unrecorded movements”.

            If some of the 9% were to come 'from those damp/drafty/dark cattle sheds' this would be from either badger-to-cattle or cattle-to-cattle transmission; the latter – the scientists are saying really doesn't happen these days.

            Cattle to cattle transmission used to happen in the 'old days' and they used to double fence fields to stop cattle contact – but the modern herds in high risk areas have been and still are tested more frequently than any other national herd in the world. Thus although there could be TB in some cattle even after TB testing this tends not to be passed on to other cattle in the form of in-herd amplification – remember the Pathman Project when - over four years - the scientists (and 400 cattle in yards!) tried to measure any C2C transmission and it didn't happen.

            The problem with badgers is that there are just too many of them and some of them have TB and are infectious. If you take an area with heavy cattle TB in the SW scientists have found that there is a spatial relationship between infected cattle and infected badgers – so locating the bad guys isn't difficult It's a no-brainer! The RBCT – costing 50 M pounds – did collect and test most of the dead badgers (nearly 9.000 of them).- but it's expensive and rightly deemed not necessary!

            It's necessary to take out the infectious badgers and its important to thin out the badger population – indeed some folk have indicated that not only do we need an oral TB vaccine but also an oral badger contraceptive - which incidentally is easier to make work 100% than the TB vaccine


            PS - Mark - it appears that once again your knowledge of TB in the field is ZERO - of course very infectious cows with open lesions could pass it on - but - as the scientists say - they looked at one year's-worth in 2004 / 5 and found not one! Likewise - the Pathman Project - Not one! Zilch! Nuffink!
            There are farms in the SW that have had Badger TB and been under movement restriction for over 10 years and have been tested continually!

          3. trimbush - it's a good job that you know so much and share it with such lack of condescension then.

  7. Mark,closed herds are almost certainly well fenced as it would be pointless to go to the trouble of having a closed herd that was like ours was and then not have adequate fencing.Often the answer as was necessary for other diseases is the one followed which is a fence or hedge with a electric fence one metre inside of it.
    Of course nothing is foolproof but it has always worked with other diseases,what springs to mind is Brucellosis which I would think was much more infective from cattle to cattle.
    Vaccination seems unworkable until we get on top of the disease assuming it is in lots of Badgers.What a pity no figures available from road-kills and this cull,surely it is important for all of us to know these figures.
    Vaccination seems out of the question as Government has not the will to catch all Badgers every year for some time,or the cost of that,on top of that and perhaps understandably the vaccine does not work on disease badgers.
    What is nonsense is the talk of bio security,surely it is not beyond those spouting this to look in the fields and see cattle spend most of their time there.
    While mushrooming this morning all the cow pats that were dryish had been turned over by(apparently clean) Badgers.Would hate to see these culled but unless this disease is cleared up it is inevitable more Badgers and cattle will become infected as it just spreads wider and wider.

    1. "closed herds are almost certainly well fenced" Not in my experience.

      "it would be pointless to go to the trouble of having a closed herd that was like ours was and then not have adequate fencing" Spot-on.

      "What is nonsense is the talk of bio security,surely it is not beyond those spouting this to look in the fields and see cattle spend most of their time there".
      Grazing periods can be extremely variable. Cattle farms on light land might only have a 2-3 month winter housing period, those on medium loams in a high rainfall area typically 4-5 months and those on heavier soils e.g. clays approx. 6 months, sometimes longer. Also you quite a lot of dairy farms that keep cattle in for the majority of the year or bring cattle inside at night during the spring/summer months to buffer feed. Then when we get wet summers like 2012, a great many farms had to bring cattle in during the summer to stop the soil getting poached to high heaven.

      1. "fence or hedge with a electric fence one metre inside of it."

        If that's not biosecurity ....

        I have only ever been on one farm - in Pembrokeshire - where the cows were out all year. It was poached to high heaven. But v profitable as there were no housing costs ...

  8. Today I listened to Chris Packham on Dessert Island 'Discs' - interesting!

    He's got two poodles and a DB6 !

    He can't be so bad after all!

    1. Trimbush - I listened too. I'm seeing him tomorrow at an event at the Royal Society. Chris wrote the excellent Foreword to Fighting for Birds, of course... Did you like his choice of music - on the whole, I did (similar age, and all that).

      1. To be absolutely frank I found the music it more interesting than (really) good – would I listen to it again? Yes – I found his personal comments experiences etc very interesting (more so than his choice of music – coma?)

        In a way it reminded me of Enoch Powell – who's eight records were all Wagner and his books were old / new testament – in their original languages!

        I've long been uncomfortable with giving a copy of the Bible to the Islander (I would take it) for fear that their response would be similar to CP's - his answer seemed a bit disrespectful but most probably unintended – “fuel” indeed! Over the years I've been given many Bibles of varying 'inclinations' – it's more polite to just say 'thank you'

        Certainly I feel I know (obviously) more about him now and what's between his ears – he's on my list Badger TB wise – and no doubt he will give the The SETT Report a fair examination and then change his mind – it's that basic. We'll see!

    2. Badgers given an oral contraception, hang on a minute THAT was an article by Nick McDermott of the Daily Snail published the on the 5th July 2013...are you sure you're not a closet reader of the Daily Snail, perhaps you have a sneaky look when your friends aren't looking....
      Still answers neede as to why no autopsy done on killed badgers, after all with the confirmation on how many diseased badgers have been culled how can the cull be judged a success or failure, regardless of cost, after all it's the nations dairy herd at stake so cost shouldn't be an issue, should it?

      1. Hi Douglas

        Folk have been talking about 'oral contraceptives' for various animals for many many years – indeed I worked with a small drug discovery company that got lots of investment from gentlefolk wanting to develop such a drug for their cats (they also wanted to orally vaccinate fish – but that's another matter).

        The current cull will be judged on its results - that is – the impact it (and its subsequent culls) has on the reduction of TB in local cattle.

        Cull enough and bingo – two species cleansed of disease – wonderful!

        Next !

        1. Next-fair enough, what happens after the cull and there is no significant drop in infection in cattle, then what? Still no answer on why defra aren't doing autopsy on the culled badgers, i take it you have no answer? NEXT!

          1. What goes around comes around!

            When you remove a significant number of diseased and infectious animals from the environment the potential for spreading that disease is similarly diminished and so long as cattle are tested and those infected are slaughtered - as happens with cattle now – overall disease levels will improve.

            As to your autopsy point

            No sensible person disputes that the cattle have TB and they get it from diseased badgers

            Until we use technology such as PCR which can detect m.bovis in individual badgers - even in field conditions - in very quick time we have to use the cruder method of culling badgers.

            The corrupt New Labour party is on record as stating that PCR technology would never be used to test to see of a badger (or sett or latrine etc) had TB (present) – irrespective of whether the badgers were dead or alive – this was because Labour feared there would be wholesale slaughter of diseased badgers.

            Warwick Uni did a lot of research here (info NOT gleaned from Mail before you ask) .

            PCR technology is the technology that Labour also refused to use during the Foot & Mouth epidemic – it reasoned (?) “far better to slaughter cattle, etc willy-nilly - irrespective of disease presence!” Certainly vaccination against FMD spread when there was the 'outbreak' would have saved many hundreds of thousands of cattle, etc etc and Billions of pounds!

            So it's true! What goes around comes around and sometimes gets worse!

          2. Trim, you've said many times on this blog there is a reservoir of btb in badgers in the UK, you're always quick to blame Labour (rightly or wrongly) and you always seem quick to back up your opinion through science....SO lets use science. At some point the government will wish to extend the cull zones across the country, however how can they if defra have no FACTS on the number of badgers killed with btb. It's fair enough to say by monitoring cattle infection you might get some idea whether or not the cull was effective, but that could easily be lull in numbers caused just by the numbers of badgers killed in the first place, you and your chums need proof of the numbers killed with btb for the pilot cull to be judged a success or failure, you will not be able to blame townies/labour or veggies for the failure, is Defra scared the cull is already a failure? Defra wanted to kill roughly 70% of th badgers in the cull zones, now if out of that 70% only 10% were clear of btb and the other 90% were infected and a drop in infected cattle then anyone opposing the cull would struggle..agreed? howeve if the results were the opposite way round, a)the cull would be declared a failure b)cattle will continue to be infected and lot more money watsed so yes we're just go round and round, both the farming communtiy and the scientific community need to know how succesful the cull, exact numbers TRIM to know whether the cull was effective, if the total number of badgers culled weren't infected two points arise from what I can see a) a better method of culling b)Is there another source of infection, after all on the 28/09/13 in the Times it was reported a rise of infection of tb in dogs, alpacas(!?) and deer.

        2. Hi Douglas

          So far Defra considers the cull a success with - no humans shot dead! A good proportion of the targeted badgers killed (humanely) – so far so good – but they need a few weeks more to ensure the 70+ % figure is reached.

          Even the 50 million pounds RBCT didn't know how many (and we still don't know) badgers were on the ground before the commencement of of the RBCTrials – it then took the culled badgers wrapped them up in plastic bags, numbered , identified them – kept the records up to date – put them in a freezer - tested them for TB (which was repeated later and more with TB found) carried out physical examinations re lesions etc etc. All costing time and money – nobody disputes this exercise – and nobody expects any subsequent cull to produce different results.

          Source of Infection

          See comment below : “a health worker in the audience who told those present during questions from the floor that there were eight people currently undergoing treatment in Gloucestershire for bovine TB, thought to have been caught from their cats

          Alpacas ! See Dianne Summers

          Apart from the human element – deer represent the other species requiring co-ordinated 'treatment' – indeed there are areas in the South West where deer have become so diseased they form a hot spot area by themselves – but they too got the disease originally from badgers and no doubt the banning of stag hunting in the south west has further exacerbated the problem

          You see – those townies / labour / veggies just don't understand the countryside do they?

          And it was Dr Chris Cheeseman (ex-DEFRA) who is very much against culling any badger - rightly pointed out –

          “Even if ALL the badgers were vaccinated for FIVE years – who's gonna do the deer?”

          1. Trimbush - as you probably know, and certainly should, the Krebs trial didn't need to know how many badgers there were to be an effective test of the trapping technique (so your point on that is just a distraction).

            The underperformance of this current tail is important because the effectiveness of badger control depends on how quickly, as well as how many, badgers are killed.

          2. Trapping mammals has gone on since Man got hungry and first 'tripped' over a rabbit. Not much to learn there!

            Why did Rosie Woodroffe (RBCT Ecologist) have to go round each Triplet and guesstimate the badger removal levels – this followed the publishing by Defra (Hansard) of estimated lowly culling rates of 25-60% - strangely Rosie came up with circa >70% for all of them.

            You say - “The under-performance of this current tail is important because the effectiveness of badger control depends on how quickly, as well as how many, badgers are killed”

            How quickly? How many? Absolutely Mark!

            This is why Thornbury was 100% successful – by gassing setts – no TB in cattle for 10+ years – recolonised by healthy badgers after a few years. And Defra is re-looking at the gassing of setts again but not using 'Cyanide'

            Krebs originally specified 100% cull and culling during the breeding season – this was reduced to 'widespread' culling with no culling in breed season. And half of the culling was done in the 'winter' months with less badgers around

            What goes around still comes around !!

  9. Filbert,

    Thank you for your comments. However I'll stick with 'bafoon' and consider the term a suitable upgrade on 'buffoon', a word I reserve the use of for those land agents that are churned out of Harper.

    1. EM - thanks for info about a new word. Where has it been seen? - I must go and see it immediately distance no object and add it to my list in my little notebook.

      Land agents: in conversation with an agricultural engineer it was decided that they could be easily identified at genus level as they were "all brown trousers and no chin".

      1. The last time I saw it was on a dairy farm in the West Mids, it popped up repeatedly during a conversation regarding a certain Estates intransigence over investment in slurry storage. I suspect it will be popping up frequently across most of the Milk Field during the course of the next few months, particularly between Oct 15th and January 31st...I'll page you if I hear anything.

        "all brown trousers and no chin". A very accurate and amusing observation however perhaps we should leave it there lest someone might bring up the dreaded four lettered T word.

  10. Mark

    I'm sure your Royal Soc gig will be a success – I see one of the eminent presenters (apart from Messrs Packham & Avery) is Vivek Menon – Regional Director South Asia of IFAW – the Animal Rights organisation – his pedigree suggests he is a world expert on elephants and tigers – but the “persecution of (English) badgers” - beyond his experience no doubt - has been tagged on to his billing – is this to drum up business – to push the UK IFAW 'save the badger' effort or does VM need (and I very much doubt it) a crutch to lean on?

    Dangerous wild animals We tell people in India that they should be protecting their elephants and tigers, despite the fact that they can cause human deaths, eat their cattle and destroy crops. Yet in Britain we are culling badgers because they carry TB. India has TB in wildlife as well, but no badgers. Vivek Menon will champion the cause of living alongside big dangerous animals. And not persecuting badgers.

    Wiki says

    Tuberculosis is the biggest health issue that lies around India, but what makes is worse is the newly and recently discovered global phenomenon of TDR-TB - Totally Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis. This issue of drug-resistant TB started off with XDR-TB, and moved on to MDR-TB. Gradually, the lowest but most dangerous and strongest of them all has situated itself in India as TDR-TB.

    There's a paper : “Bovine TB in India : Potential basis for Zoonosis” (PRASAD – Elsvier) which describes how bad TB is in India.

    This of course will mean nothing to IFAW

    Let us know won't you?

    1. Hi Mark - Just a quick request - you will mention the following information tonight won't you - if not to the attendees - at least to Chris Packham - Let's keep it a secret - just between us three!

      "The farmer, Phil Latham, writing in the Farmers Guardian was on the panel at the recent Times Cheltenham Science Fair. After commenting on how the motion "this house believes culling badgers will reduce bovine TB" was carried with 81 per cent of the audience in favour, he reports on a health worker in the audience who told those present during questions from the floor that there were eight people currently undergoing treatment in Gloucestershire for bovine TB, thought to have been caught from their cats. It is easy to forget that mammals other than cows and badgers can be infected with the bacterium - and that these include pets and people.
      We have been told that the AHVLA are aware of these cases and the cats are being tested. Human cases of bTB are very serious and the treatment is distressing.

      As Mr Latham says,
      "it is important to remember why bovine or zoonotic TB is controlled by international conventions – it is because humans can be infected and it beggars belief that infection levels have been allowed to increase both in cattle and wildlife for the last 15 years."

  11. Ernest,wonder how you know which are closed herds or not unless you ask owner.Closed herd simply means buying no stock into the herd.
    It must be obvious that most owners of closed herds having taken quite a bit of expense and trouble with that decision then would be inclined to fence well.
    It is a simple fact most cattle(I did farm cattle on very wet land)spend at least half the year at grass where Badgers are bound to go for food and you bringing rare instances to confuse the issue will never change that fact.There will always be individual instances that do not follow that pattern but they are the exception rather than the rule.

    1. "wonder how you know which are closed herds or not unless you ask owner"

      Of course I ask the owner (or manager), why would I make assumptions about the farming practices ? Why am I there in the first place ?!!

      "Closed herd simply means buying no stock into the herd." Yes, for some. Others consider zero herd-to-herd contact as also fundamental to this definition. Fact.

      Dennis, I enjoy the comments you make on this blog, I always make a point of reading them. Your experience as a retired dairy farmer provides a valuable perspective and I am sure many of the readers of this blog, particularly those from non-farming backgrounds, find your comments useful in adding a farming related balance to many of the debates that take place. However it must be said that at times you do sound very out of touch and therefore you should not always assume that you are the last word on all related farming issues.

    2. "you bringing rare instances to confuse the issue"

      Not rare, no confusion. What Ernest described is typical. The Orange Elephants on this estate will be inside any day now and they won't be out again until the end of April. All the pastures are on Denchworth clays and they don't get poached because because the cattle are housed as soon as necessary to protect the soil. In a typical year that's about five and a half months on grass only.

  12. Ernest some of your comments may be accurate and Iwould never assume to be the last word on all farming issues as I retired 10 years ago it could be said I am out of touch but my brother in law is farming so am not as out of touch as most.
    When criticising me it is best if you get your facts right.
    Fact,closed herd means exactly that and only that.
    No cattle bought and brought on farm,you breed your own replacements.


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