Farmers banned from burying dead cow

PUBLISHED: 11:40 08 August 2007 | UPDATED: 12:43 04 May 2010

By LESLEY INNES Lesley.innes@archant.co.uk HADDENHAM farmers have been forced to leave an animal carcass rotting on their land because of the Government ban on animal movements following the foot and mouth outbreak. David and Barbara Fairchild have been t

By LESLEY INNES

Lesley.innes@archant.co.uk

HADDENHAM farmers have been forced to leave an animal carcass rotting on their land because of the Government ban on animal movements following the foot and mouth outbreak.

David and Barbara Fairchild have been told they can't get the dead cow taken away and they can't bury it on their farm.

Their only option is to leave it decaying in the heat until the Government lifts the restrictions and declares the 'all clear'.

But with another case of foot and mouth disease discovered this week, an early solution to their problem seems unlikely.

"This cow is lying dead on the farm and there is no hope of getting it moved," said Barbara. "At the moment we don't know what we are going to do with it. We are spraying it with disinfectant to kill maggots."

The ban on animal movements was declared after foot and mouth disease was discovered at a farm in Surrey.

Just days later, it was announced that a second case was identified at a neighbouring farm, and almost 200 cattle have been culled in a bid to stop the disease spreading.

"We can't be the only people in the country in this position," said Barbara. "There could be carcasses lying on farms all around the country. We could get a digger, dig a hole on the farm and bury it - but we are being told we are not allowed to."

The 17-year-old cow was put down early on Sunday evening by a vet after she was unable to stand up.

He confirmed that she was arthritic and stressed and about to have a heart attack.

In line with Government policy, any carcasses of cattle born before 1992 must be collected and transported to the West Country to undergo brain tests for mad cow disease before being destroyed.

But when the Fairchilds requested collection, they were told by Government animal welfare officers that the carcass could not be moved until the ban on animal movements was lifted.

A Defra spokeswoman said: "There is a freeze on the removal of animal stock.

"Whilst we have great sympathy for the farmer in this position, we cannot set a precedent by allowing him to bury this carcass. It may not be affected, but others could be and we don't want a repeat of the foot and mouth outbreak of 2001.

"If farmers burn or bury fallen stock on their land at the moment it could contaminate the land and watercourse. We would prefer a delay in moving stock rather than risk contamination.

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