A COTSWOLD cattle farmer has published a film of the heart-breaking moments when officials shoot dead his prize bull, a young calf and its nursing mother after they tested positive for bovine tuberculosis.
David Barton, who farms at Middle Duntisbourne, has spoken out publicly in the past in support of the badger cull saying something has to be done to stop the spread of bovine TB.
This week he posted footage after filming the final moments of his beloved 11-year-old Ernie and three other animals which had tested positive for the incurable disease.
“I felt sick to the bottom of my stomach and could hardly make my legs take me to Ernie,” said David. “He trusted me and I knew I was about to betray that trust.”
“This has to stop. One in three badgers is affected by Bovine TB and in 2012 more than 38,000 cattle were killed.
“I’ve had enough of it and I’m getting out of beef because of it. I can’t emotionally carry on doing this. It’s ruining businesses and it has upset my whole family. They are distraught .”
David set up an online blog to share his thoughts and feelings on the impact Bovine TB has on farmers like himself and explain the pressures and problems the disease causes on working farms.
David invited the National Farmers Union (NFU) to come down and film what he called “one of the most distressing experiences of my farming life”.
The emotional video showing four of his cattle being shot soon went viral on YouTube and has been viewed almost 100,000 times.
WARNING: This video contains graphic footage of cattle being shot
The badger cull remains a controversial topic. It was called off in Gloucestershire in November because not enough animals could be killed to meet the required target necessary to gauge whether the pilot cull was a success. A similar cull in Somerset also missed its target.
Although the government has said it will not roll culls out across the country, DEFRA has said it will continue trials of killing badgers to see if it is effective in stopping the spread of bovine TB.
Last year David Barton opened his farm to the Standard. Since 2001 his herd had been ravaged by TB, with 103 cattle destroyed. For two years his closed herd was TB free before the disease struck again. He said the only conclusion was that it was coming from badgers.
“The most upsetting news was a positive test on Ernie,” said David. “He’s become part of the family, almost like a pet. To be told that news was soul destroying.”