Phoenix, the calf they couldn't cull,
By David Brown, Agriculture Editor Wednesday 25 April 2001
Daily telegraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/
A HEALTHY young calf called Phoenix was lucky to be alive yesterday after surviving two attempts by Ministry of Agriculture vets to kill it.
The white calf was apparently given a lethal injection six days ago along with 70 cattle - including its mother - and 47 sheep on a farm in Devon.
But when contractors arrived a few days later to spray the carcasses with disinfectant, they heard mooing and found Phoenix wandering among the dead animals. It had either survived the slaughterer's injection or been missed.
The farmer, Fred Board, and his family took in the calf, which was born on Friday April 13, and bottlefed it. When a Maff team returned yesterday to "finish the job", he defied them.
Two vets, a Maff official and two policemen left Clarence Farm, Membury, near Axminister, after a brief stand-off but warned that they would return with a court order. Mr Board said: "It seemed a lot of officialdom for one innocent little calf."
Although no foot and mouth has been confirmed on the farm the calf was caught in the contiguous cull policy to prevent spread of the disease. Mr Board said: "The calf was not injured and it appears that it was given an injection to put it down. It survived. We had the animal checked and it shows no signs of foot and mouth.
"I do not see why this healthy calf should be killed. The nearest confirmed outbreak is a mile away from me and sheep in between have been reprieved. I won't let them do it."
A Maff spokesman said last night: "Phoenix has to die. This stand will not alter what we have to do." The ministry rejected the suggestion that the calf was effectively in quarantine, indoors.