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Wednesday, 11 April, 2001, 09:53 GMT 10:53 UK
Farmer's diary: Tough decisions

In his regular diary for BBC News Online, Warwickshire farmer Adam Quinney reflects on the past week and explains how he reached the sad decision to have some of his animals destroyed.

The last week on the farm has been one of many contrasts, in some cases almost surreal.

At the start of the week I found myself talking to a Japanese film crew, sat in the pouring rain in the garden. The reporter's English was poor and my Japanese is limited to put it mildly. After talking through an interpreter for three hours the interview was completed!

From then on things went downhill.

Farmer Adam Quinney
Adam Quinney: Adapting to the crisis
We had one of our cows die while calving in a building far from home. Normally she would have been next to the house were a close eye could have been kept on her but because of the restrictions our cows could not be brought home.

My children named the cow Tescos many years ago when she was a calf. I have no idea why.

I knew this cow very well. Last year as her calf died while giving birth, so we decided to adopt another calf on to her.

All my friends said that it would be straightforward. Acting on instructions from my fellow farmers, I put a halter on her, tied her up, placed some nice rolled barley in front of her to eat, introduced the new calf and expected to do this for two or three days.

After four weeks of doing this five times a day and receiving one or two rather nasty kicks, I decided that I had had enough, she would not take to the calf and I would have to rear the calf by hand.

I find myself torn apart by the whole situation.

So I turned Tescos out with the other cows. At this she bellowed for her new calf, who dashed after her, both very in much in love! To find her dead after all that was very upsetting.

I now have the task of disposing of the body. With a D Notice served on us we are not allowed to remove her to the hunt kennels or to the knacker man. We cannot bury her as we do not have any land around the building and we pointed out to MAFF that we could not incinerate her as there are another 40 cattle in the building.

So we await a special licensee to remove her.

We have made the decision today along with our vet to apply to Maff to have some of our animals destroyed for welfare reasons.

It goes against every farmer's instinct to destroy animals that are fit and healthy.

Not being able to move or sell livestock has meant that we are very overstocked, or have animals in the wrong place: such as Tescos and some breeding sheep in a very muddy field.

At this time of year we should have sold all our lambs from last spring, but we still have over 500. We should also be sending young cattle out to grass around the local parish. All these movements are not allowed, so welfare is becoming a very real problem.

It goes against every farmer's instinct to destroy animals that are fit and healthy. But we have to put these feelings to one side otherwise the situation on farms would be impossible.

So with great reluctance we have applied to have all our hoggets (lambs that are over one year old) and cows destroyed.

We have no idea when this will happen as there are over a million animals in the pipeline in front of us. I find myself torn apart by the whole situation. In effect, I am throwing away a whole year's work, all that effort to produce quality stock and then just to bury or incinerate them.

Yes, we will receive compensation but if money was the sole reason why I am a farmer I would have given up years ago.

Read previous diaries from Adam Quinney:

  • 29 March: An Anxious wait

  • 22 March: Staring ruin in the face

  • 12 March: A farmer's fears

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