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Call for TB compensation for goats after outbreak in Stafford

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: April 22, 2014

Jeremy Lefroy.

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STAFFORD'S MP has called for goat farmers to be covered by the TB compensation scheme following a suspected case in the county.

Currently goats are not subject to routine testing for the disease as cattle are. But like other warm-blooded species, sheep, pigs and llamas, they are susceptible to TB.

If the disease is confirmed in non-cattle species, movement restrictions are imposed until all infected animals are identified and removed. But goat owners with infected animals cannot currently claim the compensation that cattle farmers can.

In November 2013 Defra announced a consultation on statutory compensation for llama and alpaca owners whose animals are slaughtered for TB control.

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This month Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy called on Environment Secretary Owen Paterson to extend measures to goat owners too.

Speaking in a House of Commons debate he said: "In my area, we also have TB in dairy goats, but the farmers involved are not covered by the compensation scheme.

"Will the Secretary of State consider changing that rule, because it is causing desperation among those farmers?"

Mr Paterson responded: "I was talking to farming representatives who had come over the border into my own patch, and I am aware that there is a bad case in Staffordshire involving goats.

"We need to look at this issue. We have made it clear that we are going to consult on bringing alpacas into the regime, and we should look at goats as well."

The affected farmer in Staffordshire has not been publicly identified.

But a spokesman for NFU West Midlands said the organisation would back Mr Lefroy's calls for compensation to be extended to goat owners.

Nick Brandon, who previously kept one of Britain's largest dairy goat herds at Upper Enson Farm, north of Stafford, also supported the compensation call.

He has now switched to rearing goats for meat, but his herd has not been affected by TB.

He said: "It's a difficult issue. The skin test isn't that useful with goats, the way it shows up is in any slaughtered animals and that is the usual way farmers come to find out about it.

"If they put compensation in place they will take it more seriously with goats."

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