LOSING cattle to bovine tuberculosis has become a way of life for one Peover farmer

Dairy farmer Ian McGrath, has been fighting an almost constant battle since 2002, in which time he has lost 130 cattle.

However, over the past 13 years, and in an effort to eradicate the disease from his farm, he has also become an expert in ways of trying to find a solution to its spread, which last year resulted in the slaughter of more than 26,000 cattle nationwide.

Mr McGrath, who is now one of DEFRA's leading experts on its spread said: "In 2002, there were just 12 cases of bovine TB in Cheshire, which by 2014 had risen to 250 cases.

"I became involved in the whole issue of the disease because I was demanding more and more answers, and kept getting moved up the chain of command because nobody seemed to know what to do, and eventually became a member of DEFRA's TB eradication team."

In an effort to point up how the disease is spreading Mr McGrath has appeared in a video, which features the latest loss of 14 of his cattle three weeks ago, as they are shipped out to slaughter. The video which was posted onto YouTube has had more than 130,000 hits since May 1.

He explained: "It’s particularly hard because among the animals going is probably the best cow I’ve ever bred. What’s really upsetting is that she was carrying a heifer calf.”

“It gets to the point of being soul destroying really. What almost is the point of breeding the best cows. We’ve still got to carry on in the hope that one day we’ll be clear of TB. It’s mentally exhausting to do this every 60 days.

“We’ve come to expect it but it doesn’t make it any easier. You have to shut it out of your mind and forget that they’ve gone and just start milking again tonight and hope that the next load of heifers to calve will replace them."

Among the other animals taken away for slaughter after testing positive for the disease was Ian’s bull Fred, who was one of the last calves his dad saw born on the farm before his death in January 2014.

He adds: "The only way to tackle this increasing problem is to have a surveillance programme of all wildlife, and as I say to those who believe badgers are not the problem in its spread; I am not anti-badger but I am anti-TB."

To view the video on Youtube following this link by logging online: youtube.com/watch?v=iHGg_IAFZAs&feature=youtu.be