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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 January 2006, 09:15 GMT
NFU backs 'TB calf' fight woman
Fern, the pedigree Dexter calf
Government officials have refused a second test on Fern
Farmers' leaders are backing a Devon woman's battle to save a calf suspected of being infected with bovine TB.

Smallholder Sheilagh Kremers forced a stay of execution for the calf Fern on Tuesday by refusing to let officials on to her land near Newton Abbot.

She wants the calf to be tested again before it is killed.

Anthony Gibson, regional director of the National Farmers Union said as long as Mrs Kremers was not breaking the law, it would support her.

Smallholder defiant

He said: "I've applied to the divisional veterinary manager for Mrs Kremers' animal to get a second test.

"If we get a 'no', there will have to be further discussions."

A vet from the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) visited Mrs Kremers on Tuesday, but failed to persuade her to let the calf be killed.

Mrs Kremers' herd of 12 pedigree Dexter cattle was tested for TB two weeks ago. Fern was the only one that was found to be a TB "reactor".

This means the animal had come into contact with the disease, but vets will not be able to tell if it actually has bovine TB unless it is slaughtered and a post-mortem examination is carried out.

Defra said second tests were only given where there was a strong margin of doubt. It said the tests were more than 77% reliable.

The farm is under TB restrictions and the calf has been isolated.

Mrs Kremers said her action was in protest at the government's policy on bovine TB, which can be spread to cattle from badgers.

She now faces being issued with a slaughter warrant and legal action if she continues to defy the authorities.

Sheilagh Kremers said she was taking out a complaint against a vet who signed a slaughter form in respect of the animal, claiming she had not fulfilled all the requirements for doing so.

Defra said that the vet who called on Mrs Kremer made clear she [the vet] was not in favour of a TB re-test.

Anthony Gibson
"If we get a 'no', there will have to be further discussions"


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