ANGRY farmer Michael Reed is threatening to blockade his Exmoor farm to prevent officials taking away a cow from its month-old calf.

Mr Reed, aged 72, who has farmed all his life at Higher Ranscombe, near Wootton Courtenay, was told by officials the cow had contracted TB.

But despite the disease being confirmed, he has not seen any symptoms other than a small lump on the animal’s neck.

Officials want to seize this cow after diagnosing it with TB and remove it from her calf on Michael reed's farm.
Officials want to seize this cow after diagnosing it with TB and remove it from her calf on Michael reed's farm. PHOTO: George Ody. ( )

Mr Reed said the diagnosis came three days before the Hereford Cross cow gave birth to its calf.

Now, he wants the calf to be able to suckle and fears it will die if the mother is seized.

Mr Reed said: “I have isolated the cow and calf so nothing gets passed on to the rest of the herd.

“If a cow has a calf she should be allowed to suckle it.

“Ideally, the calf would stay with the mother for six months, and I want to campaign for a minimum of four months.

“They do not seem to realise how difficult it is to raise a calf.”

Mr Reed said officials were blindly following regulations and not looking at the individual circumstances of the case when they ruled the cow had to be removed.

Now, he is to meet vets and officials due to visit him on Thursday (May 16).

But Mr Reed said if they insisted on the animal’s removal then he would fight it all the way.

He said: “I can put tractors across the lane so they will not be able to get in.

Exmoor farmer Michael Reed. PHOTO: George Ody.
Exmoor farmer Michael Reed. PHOTO: George Ody. ( )

“I will take it all the way, as far as I can go with it. I am very disturbed by it.”

Mr Reed said he was highly suspicious of the TB testing because Wootton Courtenay was in a designated ‘high risk’ area where officials were able to ‘make an assumption’ of disease even without any symptoms showing.

He said the rest of his 45 head of mixed cattle were clear of TB and it was a ‘real mystery’ how one animal alone could catch it and not the others.

Mr Reed said: “She was actually tested by the vet in-calf in February and was clear.

“Then, in April they said the cow had TB and three days later she calved.

“I do not know how she picked it up.

“I am very suspicious the injections may have been contaminated.

“I have been free of TB for two years and they have culled the badgers, although now they say it has got into the deer and they have been culling them.”

It was a case of deja vu for Mr Reed after he had an animal taken away two years ago without any conclusive test results and despite it being a strong cow.

He said: “Two years ago they persuaded me to let a cow go, but I will stand firm this time.”

Mr Reed took on the farm from his parents John Reed and Betty Reed (nee Webber), who moved there in 1947.