Ian McGrath has spent virtually his entire career in dairy farming having to deal with the impact of bovine TB on his business.
“We’ve tested 50 times in the last 11 years. We’ve constantly been TB testing, expecting a TB reactor, and farming around movement restrictions,” said Ian, who farms in Cheshire. “I can name nearly every cow we’ve lost to TB. You just can’t replace them when they’ve gone.”
During that time the number of farms in the area affected by TB has increased dramatically as the disease has spread. Ian explained the almost relentless cycle his business has faced because of bovine TB.
He is one of many farmers whose lives have been hit hard by the disease coming to their farms.
“TB takes over your life. I test every 60 days, lose some more reactors, have a clear test, sell some cattle, have another test 60 days later, find a reactor – it’s just a constant cycle,” he said.
“I’ve had that many TB reactors now I know what to look for myself during a test, so the feeling of doom is probably already there. Even so, you still don’t want to find a reactor.”
Ian always wanted to be a dairy farmer and despite his experiences with bovine TB he is determined to carry on.
“There was no doubt when I left school that all I was ever going to do was milk cows. I wanted to look after cows and I still do.
“I would love to farm without TB. I’ve got to the point where I know no different and it’s become part of my life. To just farm in a normal, unaffected way with just the weather to deal with would be great,” he said.
“Farming around TB has become unbearable for some but, for now, all I want to do is milk cows.”