The loss of top-quality livestock worth thousands to bTB has left a Tempo farmer "disillusioned". 

As a small farmer, Robert Forde, from Mullyknock, places a huge emphasis on breeding and sourcing the best livestock he can and having attained many successes with his Simmentals, he was always keen to branch out into other breeds. 

However, his plans to establish Aberdeen Angus (AA) on his farm - which saw him acquiring six carefully selected animals - came to an unexpected end when all but one had to be culled due to bTB.

The experience has left a "bad taste in his mouth", and Mr. Forde has now decided to put plans to expand into other breeds on hold. 

"I am a Simmental man in general but I always had it in the back of my mind to venture into AA," he explained. "I don't want to have all my eggs in one basket, but to be honest the ordeal I have had with TB has left me disillusioned. 

"I bought a total of six pedigree Angus, all of top breeding. They weren't easy to get or buy. One of them, in particular, was a clinker; a 10-month-old heifer from Gretna House Farms, which I paid £4,500 for. 

"The TB test back in December took five out of six of those Angus. It was truly awful news to hear."

Mr. Forde said that the reality of the situation - which basically wiped out his carefully executed plan to diversify into other breeds - was galling on several levels. 

"The compensation, in my view, didn't come close to covering the loss," he said. "I got £5,000 for the best heifer, after paying £4,500 initially, putting a £100 straw in her, and keeping her for months. 

"For another cow, which was due to calf in a month, I got £2,800, but the true value was closer to five. For a yearling heifer, I was compensated £1,800, but for something with a really good bloodline, there's not a mission that this was even close to the value. 

"The other element of it is there's never going to be the chance to get those genetics again. It is a big loss to a small farmer who is trying to breed the best genetics you can get. The genetics I lost aren't available in the mart."

Mr. Forde concluded: "The value of genetics and years of breeding isn't reflected in TB compensation. You are losing something that's a lifetime's work to a disease that doesn't seem to be a priority for the Department. 

"I feel sorry for the dairy men, who have bred up the best genetics they can get over a lifetime, to lose hand over fist with TB."