This article was published in Blackmore Vale Magazine on 28 June 2014.
With the Great Yorkshire Show upon us, I would like to draw readers’ attention to a sensitive yet “teat”-illating issue: Teat Tampering.
Last year’s Great Yorkshire show was rife with stories of tampering: the covert and beastly practice of exhibitors applying chemicals to a poor cow's udder to ensure a generous display. The 155-year old show was overflowing with humiliating reports of nip ‘n’ tuck style teat jobs splashed across the media.
But why? I hear you query while sipping your creamy coffee? Well, financial gain could be one reason for the tampering. With prize winners fetching thousands at auction they really are cash cows. Happily, the perpetrators did not profit from their exploits - no rosettes, no cigars. Plenty of time to chew over their crime.
Not only did the rogue farmers show disregard to the show’s regulations and reputation but also ignored the damaging health risks to the cows, such as an increased incidence of mastitis or even anaphylactic shock.
A year on and many will be wondering what effect the scandal has had. The issue has seemingly been laid to rest as The Yorkshire Agricultural Society meted out swift justice and the exhibitors in question have withdrawn appeals and mutually consented to never enter the show again.
However, the show must go on and regulators have introduced the British Veterinary Association's recommendation of an Animal Welfare Plan. Teat Tampering will continue to be taboo in the Agricultural show ring. Show regulators are keen to nip the issue in the bud with random scanning of participants, routine veterinary examinations and investigations into any suspicion of tinkering. (Although I am convinced no such malpractice could happen in the Vale, I’ll be keeping a keen eye on cows at the local shows and reporting any suspicious udders in this column…)
I'm not going to milk this story. Hopefully this year’s show will be whiter than white. Another year like last would be a complete and udder disaster.