Calls to scrap badger cull as Brian May-backed farm declared TB-free
by Mikey Smith11:30, 28 Oct 2019

The legendary Queen guitarist and animal activist also revealed he has farming in his blood

A Dairy Farm backed by Queen’s Brian May has been declared TB-free, boosting hopes that a way has been found to eradicate the disease without culling badgers.

And the legendary guitarist also revealed he has farming in his blood.

Ministers last month declared fresh plans to slaughter nearly 63,000 badgers across England’s countryside this autumn.

But Gatcombe Farm in Devon, run by farmers Robert and Thomas Reed and their vet Dick Sibley, have been trialling new tests to detect the disease earlier and clamping down on slurry management and farm biosecurity.

The farm had previously been beset by infection and closure. But it has now been granted TB-free status for the first time in six years.

Dr May is appealing to the government to back a series of nationwide trials of the new approach.

Dr May is appealing to government to back nationwide trials

“I believe we now have enough evidence to strongly suggest that the culling is not working,” he said.

“And has no hope of solving the TB problem in cattle.

“And, even more important, we now have an alternative TB eradication strategy which does work, has worked for Robert Reed, and could work for the whole of the UK, and make the bovine TB problem history.“

Dr May said the method used at Gatcombe Farm could eradicate TB from a farm within four years, much faster than the 25 year estimate for the Badger Cull.

Dr May has long been accused of being “anti-farmer” in his opposition to the badger cull, something he strongly denies.

He said: “If I were anti-farming, why would I have spent so much time over the last five years trying to help a Devon dairy farmer?

“As part of the Gatcombe team, I’ve had a hand in transforming a chronically infected farm into a TB free zone – a major achievement in these times.”

He added: “Interestingly, and it’s not something I’ve ever revealed before, five generations ago, my ancestors were dairy farmers in Devon and in Dorset.

“Perhaps my involvement in this very fraught situation was somehow meant to be.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “Bovine TB remains one of the greatest animal health threats to the UK, causing devastation for hard-working farmers and rural communities.

“There is no single measure that will provide an easy answer to beating the disease.

“That is why we are pursuing a range of interventions to eradicate the disease by 2038, including tighter cattle movement controls, regular testing and vaccinations.”