A SOMERSET MP is appealing to allow an Exmoor farmer to temporarily keep a cow diagnosed with TB. 

Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, has written to Defra secretary, Steve Barclay, to ask whether Michael Reed can keep the cow so it can suckle a calf. 

Michael, who farms near Wooten Courtenay, says the calf will die if its mother is removed. The calf was born three days after the cow tested positive for the disease. 

The Animal Plant and Health Agency (APHA) issued a Notice of Intended Slaughter on April 15 2024. A spokesperson for APHA has said they have 'no disrection to delay the slaughter of TB positive cows until their calves are weaned'. They have said once cows are fit for transport, they must be removed and slaughtered to protect the health of other animals nearby.

“Mr Reed has kept the cow isolated to minimise any risk of infection spreading and only wants to keep it for four months until the calf is fully weaned,” Mr Liddell-Grainger said. 

“I understand entirely that it has required a massive effort on behalf of the authorities and the Government to get on top of the TB epidemic and it is only by rigorous application of the rules and taking measures which at times have been pretty unpopular that we have been able to achieve the success we have.

“All I am asking is for the Animal and Plant Health Agency to weigh up the situation carefully before taking a final decision.”

APHA have said they can delay removal of in-calf cows and heifers, but this comes with requirements. They say this also means the calf should not be allowed to suckle from the dam to prevent disease spread to the newborn through both colostrum/milk aerosols.