The UK dairy industry has been abuzz this week with talk of the badger cull in Wales (Judge rules in favour of a Welsh badger cull, Jonathan Riley, fwi.co.uk, 16 Apr 2010). It appears that badgers are to be blamed for the spread of TB amongst cattle and so they've got to go! - or at least those that are fond of peanuts. The High Court overturned an appeal by the Badger Trust to reverse the decision and it looks like the cull will proceed.
Talk of the cull reminded me of a discussion with my dairy farmer neighbour on our rough equivalent to the badger, the wombat, and it leads me to ponder this question of pests and diseases a little further.
Australian farmers have a few crosses of their own to bear but chronic infectious and reportable diseases are not the worst of it. We are fortunate to have almost complete control of TB in dairy herds. foot and mouth and BSE is non-existant, and anthrax only pops up occasionally in a particular area of central Victoria when the feed gets very low. There is a problem with bluetongues though - they scare the living bejeezus out of you when you come across them in the paddock - lying there looking for all the world like a fat snake - only shorter.
Apart from drought and fire and flooding rain, poisonous snakes, and spiders, EBL, and Johne's disease, and an extremely volatile milk price, it's all pretty much plain sailing back home. But it hasn't stopped my neighbour complaining about the wombats. They dig holes in the sides of dams! And those bloody kangaroos make a mess of electric fences and scare the stock. It's a real problem ... seriously.
Apparently you can get a permit from the local authorities back home to cull wombats on your property. It brings a whole new meaning to fire in the hole. You can't however stop the neighbours from planting large tracts of timber plantation and revegetation that give the buggers somewhere to live and breed.
For my part I'm off to see if the local fox and hound club wants to come out to Australia and clear out the foxes, hares, and rabbits that infest our hundred acre forest. They might get less resistance than here in England. While they are there they can pick and clear the blackberries, chip the thistles, pull out the ragwort, poison the hawthorn, shoot the starlings, ...
... and that's as deep as it gets for me this week Tally Ho! ... makes mental note: I must remember to disinfect my shoes, I must remember to disinfect my shoes, I must ...