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Champion bull to be slaughtered

14 September 2004 - BBC News

A prize-bull from Cornwall is to be put down on Wednesday because of bovine TB. The bull's owner, Fred Hawke, from Hustyns Farm, Burlawn, near Wadebridge says he has been offered compensation of between 20,000 and 30,000. Swampy was the champion Hereford bull of the Royal Cornwall Show four years ago for two consecutive years.

Although his test was inconclusive, government vets say the bull has to be slaughtered - the 16th member of the Hawke herd to be killed in two months. Mr Hawke says the decision to slaughter the bull has hit the family hard. He said: "It's horrendous. I can't believe it's happened. Tomorrow when I come to load it, that's when it'll really hit me."

Figures published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) last month showed more outbreaks in Devon and Cornwall than anywhere in England, Scotland and Wales. It has provoked more criticism of the latest government policy on badger culling.

Mr Hawke believes badgers could be responsible for the outbreak in his herd. He said: "We're surrounded by badgers here. We're living with them. We've got outbreaks all around us, but nobody seems to worry about it at all. It's costing the country a fortune." Because of Swampy's champion status, the Hawke family will receive up to 30,000.

Melanie Hall, from the National Farmers' Union, says it is a distressing situation for hundreds of farmers across the region who are dealing with the disease on a daily basis. She says the unusually high compensation being offered to Mr Hawke is to recognise all the years of breeding for a pedigree prize-winning bull. Ms Hall said: "This isn't an everyday occurrence. A lot of the livestock in the West Country is of a commercial nature. The compensation is normally made on market value and doesn't take into account the loss of breeding, the work involved and the replacement of the animals."

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