Honeychild Manor Farm Dairy & Milk Shed News - 12th May 2019

As the milk shed has now been open for just over a week, I would like to welcome back our regular customers and hopefully welcome lots of new ones too!

I would like to use this opportunity to give you some background information about what has happened in the last four months.

Kent County is considered as low risk regarding TB in cattle and wildlife at large and so farmers in the county are usually required to test their entire herds of cattle, over the age of 42 days, for TB every 4 years. However, because we are selling untreated (unpasteurised) milk direct to the public we are required to test the whole herd (not just the milk producing part) every 12 months.

We have done this in 2016, 2017 and in 2018. This process involves the vet giving each animal a minute injection of two different strains of TB and then 3 days later looking at the lumps on the skin of each animal and measuring the size of the top lump in comparison to the bottom lump. As you can imagine this is quite a tedious job, the first visit takes a team of 5 of us 8 hours, the second about 5 hours.

At the November 2018 test we had 2 cows that were classified as “inconclusive” requiring them to be re-tested 60 days later. These two were placed in isolation from all the other cattle and were dried off so that they ceased to produce any milk.

So, 60 days later we re-tested these two and one was clear but the other was classified as a reactor. At this point we were ordered to cease selling untreated milk through the milk shed and also no cattle were allowed to sold off the farm except with a ministry license directly to an approved slaughter house.

By order of the State Veterinary Service both cattle were slaughtered and their lymph glands sent off to a laboratory for culturing, a process that takes about 8 weeks. When this result came back both cattle were found to be negative. The one that had been called the reactor was then termed as a “false positive”.

The farm then had to have two clear TB tests 60 days apart before we would be clear again. The first test was at the end of Feb and the second at the end of April.

We passed both and were therefore classified as clear and we hoped to have the go ahead to open the milk shed in time for Easter.

But Oh No, the system hadn’t quite finished with us as the vet had not tested a calf that was 42 days old on the day of the test because he thought that the rules were to test cattle OVER 42 days, not 42 days and over. So, we had to wait to get this one tested, which it was and came back all clear.

So, at long last all restrictions have been lifted off our farm and we can get back to something like normal. As we were not allowed to sell any stock for virtually 4 months our cattle numbers have risen to about 100 head more than we would normally hold. These extra mouths have to be fed watered and generally tended to which made for quite a lot of extra work for everyone on the farm.

I would like to thank everyone involved with the livestock at Honeychild for their hard work and patient understanding during what has been a very trying time. I would also like to thank all our regular customers for their patience and understanding and to say how glad we all are to be back to normal. So please keep coming for your milk and spread the word to all and sundry about how tasty our whole untreated milk is. Due to some long overdue holidays being taken over the next couple of months we have decided not to hold an Open Farm Sunday at Honeychild this year.

I will endeavour to produce regular updates for our customers from time to time about what is happening at the farm at the various times of the year.

Stephen Furnival


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