A DAIRY farmer from Wrexham claims Bovine TB regulations are too “draconian” after he watched three calving cows slaughtered on his yard.

Les Morris, who farms at Cadwgan Hall Farm, Bersham, was left heartbroken after a contractor working for the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) arrived to kill three of his herd whose pregnant state meant they were unable to be ferried to a Cheshire slaughterhouse along with eight other animals.

Amid distressing scenes one of the calves was born naturally minutes before his mother was killed, although an attempt to save another calf failed.

The interpretation of the Bovine TB rules is hitting the farming community hard and farmers like Mr Morris claim animals are being killed unnecessarily.

He has now lost 29 of his diary herd, but says all tests carried out so far have failed to establish TB in his herd.

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The slaughtered animals were identified as “reactors” after further blood tests carried out by agricultural health officers flagged up the risk they could be carrying the disease.

But Mr Morris said: “The whole herd has passed the severe skin test, but they decided to rely on blood tests which are not as accurate as the skin tests. They took 11 cows from me this morning, a lot of them heavily in calf.

“One had calved 20 minutes before the lorry arrived on the yard, two have been slaughtered with the calves kicking inside them. This is the worst we’ve ever had - it’s draconian ways as they have shot calving cows. The calves were kicking for their last as their mothers were shot. Luckily one was born 20 minutes before.”

Bovine TB, the infectious disease that mainly affects cattle, is mostly identified using a tuberculin skin test as clinical signs of the disease can take time to appear.

When TB is identified in a herd affected cows are destroyed and movement restrictions are placed on farms - Mr Morris’ farm will be subject to those for 60 days before retesting.

“It’s affecting all the farming community, but the testing needs to be far more accurate. It is a mess and they are just slaughtering willy nilly,” added Mr Morris, 64, who runs the farm with his brother, Alan, 66.

“There are pockets of TB that need to be sorted out, but they appear to be in the wrong areas and shooting the wrong cattle.

“It’s a third of our diary cows gone. They (DEFRA and APHA) don’t appear to be making any headway whatsoever.

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“They haven’t confirmed one case of TB over a three-year period. When they slaughter them they do a visual test at the slaughter house which have all proved negative.

“This herd all passed the skin test in November.”

The farmer, who will receive compensation for his slaughtered animals, hopes the surviving calf will be able to “attach” to a foster mother among the rest of the herd.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “The TB eradication programme plays an important role in protecting public and animal health, and in safeguarding the future of the farming industry.

“We have made significant progress over the last nine years, as we press on towards our goal of a TB free Wales.

“The gamma interferon blood test complements the skin test in helping to identify infected cattle early and with a high level of accuracy.

“Expert veterinary opinion considers an unborn calf to be non-conscious because of the low levels of oxygen present in its blood stream.

“However, we understand it can be distressing to observe an on farm slaughter. Only a small proportion of TB reactors are killed in this way and only as a last resort and when absolutely necessary.”

The Farmers’ Union of Wales says TB levels in cattle have not shown any significant decline and it has set up a local group to assess the impact the disease is having on the farming community.

FUW Denbigh and Flint CEO Mari Dafydd Jones said: “We want to bring farmers together to discuss ways forward and to scrutinise the lack of progress made by Welsh Government.

“We will also be evaluating farmers’ mental health given the huge pressure those who have to deal with the disease on farms are under.”