In Gironde, the cry of despair of a young breeder faced with bovine tuberculosis

In Gironde, the cry of despair of a young breeder faced with bovine tuberculosis
In Gironde, the cry of despair of a young breeder faced with bovine tuberculosis

An infected cow in November in Bérénice Walton’s herd forced the young breeder to cull her herd of 200 Bazadaise cows.

Le Figaro Bordeaux

At 33, Bérénice Walton sees the thirteen years of work carried out on her farm in Arveyres (Gironde) go up in smoke. His herd of 200 Bazadaise cows, a local breed, is preparing to be entirely slaughtered by prefectural order. In question: a case of bovine tuberculosis detected and confirmed in November. If the annual incidence rate (0.05%) allows France to have the status “free” from the disease since 2001, according to ANSES, France continues to fight against persistent outbreaks of infection, in particular in Dordogne according to the breeder, also vice-president of the Gironde Chamber of Agriculture. Six months before her farm was condemned, a herd located a few kilometers from her home had suffered the same fate.

If the procedure is compensated by the State and the meat is still consumable and sold wholesale to traders, the breeder denounces an outdated procedure. “Since 2001, we have slaughtered 10,000 cows per year for one positive cow. We are in 2024, if it were effective, it would be known”, scolds the thirty-year-old. For the one who took 13 years to build her herd, which was made up of 60 mothers of this now rare breed, it is high time to also review the application of these standards. “We went weeks without an official response. We load our animals into trucks every day without knowing how many we will remove or when. Sometimes (…), we don’t know when the truck is coming either. Imagine breeders alone at home who are neither elected nor unionized”she describes this way, referring to the high rate of suicides among farmers.

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Wildlife

According to the breeder, who raised her alarm on social networks, the contamination of her livestock is simply due to wildlife. On July 23, a badger, tested positive for tuberculosis, was found dead 400 meters from his farm. Wild boars, deer and foxes, which cannot be prevented from passing through the fields or lapping at the water trough, can also carry the bacteria. An uncontrollable origin, which worries Bérénice Walton a lot: “I’m going to buy back cows, but won’t it be the same thing in two years? The badger passes through our meadows every day and by being positive and alive, it continues to carry the bacteria for six to twelve months.

The breeder now also has to deal with managing her farm and repaying her investments, with no goods to sell and no salary since September. “I hope that we can review this protocol and that my herd is not decimated for nothing. Between that and the uprooting of the vines, if we continue, we will have more farmers in Gironde in 10 years”, estimates the breeder. She now has one year to buy back her cattle, focusing on another breed – because Bazadaises are not bought in bulk -, hoping that this choice will become profitable within four years. In the meantime, a pot was opened by one of her friends to support her financially and pay the salary of her employee, whom she did not wish to dismiss two years before her retirement.

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