|Welcome to the SDT
I hope you have all had a good few weeks and all prepared for the Christmas production if that affects your business. We have been very busy at the Society, as this Newsletter indicates. We have had the Eden Graduation; Study Tour; we have the Symposium next week and are well along the way of sorting the Spring Conference for next year. Added to that I am still processing late renewals for membership so if you are one of those that hasn't yet paid your subscription please hurry!
I have made some slight changes to the website, to add some functionality as we found that some of the hyperlinks were not up to date. If you find any problems or have any suggestions for items that would be useful, please let me know.
Spring Conference 2015 - CAFRE
The 2015 Spring Conference will be held on 31st March and 1st April at CAFRE, Cookstown, Northern Ireland and the topic of the conference this year will be
Future in Focus - The Dairy Industry in a Post-Quota World
Once more we have a site visit on day one and on day two a host of top class speakers covering a wide range of topics. Speakers include Mark Faherty from the Irish Dairy Board, David Dobbins of Dale Farm, Professor Paul Ross of University College, Cork and Alex Bandini of Kantor World. The programme and booking form will be available to download from the SDT website (www.sdt.org) soon.
Cookstown is easily accessible from Belfast which can be reached by air or ferry. I hope to see you there.
Eden Student Graduation
The class of 2014 graduated in Dairy Technology during a ceremony held at Nantwich Church in late September. All of the students were members of the Society and have the distinction of the entire cohort achieving either Merit or Distinction overall in their Foundation Degree. I hope that their membership of the Society was put to good use during their studies as they had access to the entire backlist of IJDT and other online publications that the Society produces. They have also attended symposia and conferences whilst at Reaseheath College.
It is hoped that these graduates will continue their membership of the Society and who knows, some may become the Council members or Officers of the future. It is YOUR Society and you get out of it what you put in. I have said many times that I, like many others, joined as a student and my network of dairy specialists is a result of staying in the Society! Stay with us!
Eden Graduates Paul Winfield and Sue Twist of Arla Foods.
Autumn Symposium and 71st AGM
Over 70 delegates have registered for our Autumn Symposium next week, something we are really pleased about. A full report will appear in the next Newsletter, along with the Annual Report for 2013-14. As usual, the speakers' presentations will be available in the members' area of the website after the event.
Eden Study tour to the North of England
Nineteen first year Eden FdSc students, accompanied by 3 second year students and two staff, enjoyed a very busy study tour as part of their induction to the course. The study tour, organised by the Society for the Eden Foundation Degree, visited Arla Foods Stourton Dairy in Leeds and then went on to Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes on the first day of the tour. Both visits were really interesting with the students seeing very large scale production of liquid milks and then comparing it to a much smaller creamery which focuses on production of PGI status cheese.
Students at Stourton Dairy on day one of the tour
After an overnight stay in Kendal the group travelled up to Appleby-in-Westmorland, to visit the creamery of our former Executive Director, Maurice Walton. The students heard the story behind the creamery and the decisions that the directors took as they set up the creamery from scratch. The final visit was to Dairy Crest's spreads production factory in Kirkby, Liverpool, where two Eden students conducted the tour.
The tasters of cheese were cleared up fairly quickly!
I also accompanied the tour and it was really great to meet the new students and to be able to give them a flavour of the benefits of Society membership.
We were extremely well entertained and hosted at all of the venues and we tasted some superb products. I would like to add a personal thank you to the dairies for facilitating this tour as we couldn't do it without you.
Bovine TB - lessons from history
In recent years the debate about how to control the spread of TB in cattle and wildlife has got very heated and divisive. The debate is likely to warm up again as Defra has given the go ahead for a second cull of badgers in selected areas of Gloucester and Somerset. This may be a time when a review of some history could help balance the discussion.
Mycobacterium bovis (M.bovis) is the bacterium that causes TB in cattle. Historically, cattle have been the main natural hosts of M.bovis, but nearly all mammals are susceptible to the infection to a variable degree. Importantly, we must not overlook the fact that the organism also has the capacity to infect and cause TB in humans.
Those of us who have passed a certain age can remember the time when tuberculosis was a threat to humans mainly through the drinking of unpasteurised milk from infected herds. Those who had direct contact with infected cattle were also at risk. However, the risk of infection for the general public in this country today remains very low due to milk pasteurisation and disease control measures.
Bovine TB was very damaging to the British cattle industry throughout the first half of the twentieth century. There was little control in place and infected milk and meat got into the food chain. It was not until after the Second World War that the Ministry of Agriculture decided to tackle the problem.
An eradication programme started in 1950 when there were 196,000 dairy farmers in the UK and nearly 3 million dairy cows. Today there are less than 14,000 dairy farmers and about 1.7 million dairy cows! The eradication programme involved the slaughtering of cattle which reacted to a tuberculin test, and in some cases whole herds were eliminated. The programme was very successful and, although there were a few remaining pockets of disease, by the end of 1960 England was declared officially TB free (I remember it well!). It was thought that the few remaining pockets of disease would be easily dealt with. Then, ten years later, TB in cattle was occurring again in the South West.
In parallel with the new occurrence of cattle TB, it was discovered that it was also present in wildlife, particularly in badgers. Coincidentally and unrelated, The Badgers Act was introduced in 1973 to protect badgers from blood sports, followed by the Protection of Badgers Act in 1992, classifying the badger as a protected species. As far as I can see, no one really knows how many badgers there are in the UK, but it is generally accepted that numbers have grown due to increased legal protection.
Last year 26,000 cattle were slaughtered and one quarter of herds in the West Midlands and the South West were, at some point under livestock movement restrictions. It is reported that over the past decade, the cost to taxpayers was £500 million and it will cost some £100 million in the current year, plus the costs to farmers amounting to tens of millions. Apart from the financial implications, we must not overlook the fact that for farmers affected, bovine TB brings misery.
Defra has a major research programme underway to develop badger and cattle vaccines and diagnostic tests, although it is accepted that a vaccine would not guarantee that all vaccinated animals are fully protected, and some may still contract the disease. Vaccinating both cattle and badgers could be an important part of the way TB is controlled in the future, but it seems that a realistic programme remains a number of years away. In the meantime, the focus can only be on reducing the spread of disease, and let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past. To quote Confucius, “study the past if you would define the future”.
Please send comments, feedback and suggestions for topics to Liz Whitley