Dear Mary,

Re. the stand off, polarisation, polemic that has developed between badger groups (and RSPCA) and the farming industry (and including vets) ....

Prof. Bourne parroted faithfully by the above, has quoted on several occasions to Select committees, peer audiences -the most recent Jan 25th. at the ISG open meeting - that 14 million cattle movements are responsible for the explosion of bovine tb in cattle.

Considering that we have only 9 million bovines on the database it would mean that every one was doing handstands from its place of birth at least 1.5 times. Not so. Of course its not so! The movement of 14.6 million is a movement of not bovine hooves, but DATA.

When an animal moves, a card is lodged with BCMS (British Cattle movement Service) reporting a movement 'OFF'. When it arrives where it is going a similar card is lodged marked 'ON' . And if it has a pit stop on the way, at a market, then 2 more are generated as 'markets are registered holdings too. Even dead ends (if you'll pardon the pun!) like abattoirs have to report 'movements'. So when the good professor asked for the total cattle 'movements' he quoted that 14 million, without realising or understanding or even querying the basis of the figure. Now ain't that a surprise?

So his whole cattle to cattle emphasis plus all the rigmarole about pre movement testing etc. is based on .... a lie.

The figure for cattle movements onto farms - which is the only one that matters as far as disease transmission goes - is not 14 million, or even 4 million. It is 2.7 million for England Wales and Scotland, of which a good proportion (I've asked for figures!) will be young calves under 6 weeks, which pose minimal risk.

Perhaps one could enquire of the good professor:" What would be the effect on bovine tb incidence if the figure of 14 million cattle movements which you have quoted could be reduced to say a couple of million?" That should keep Christl Donelley's computer modelling happy for a week.

How can he have got it so wrong? Is it deliberate or a mix of arrogance combined with ignorance of the systems? Hell he didn't even need a calculator - BCMS figures are all in columns - you just have to read.

Here in writing the 13 / 14 million from John Bourne.
Strangely this was the only reference in writing we could find. That he said it even as recently as the ISG meeting on Jan 25th. is confirmed by John Gallagher, but it appears to have 'edited' out of all official documents. Covering his back?
The cattle numbers are slightly more than the 9 million I quoted. (from memory it was 9.8 last year or thereabouts) but as the Badger Trust is quoting only adults (3.8 million) doing the 14 million movements, then we better have it right! Again it was Michael who found it. He really is quite a mole.
I'll forward that as well.
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