A WREXHAM dairy farmer says cows slaughtered under tough Bovine TB regulations were killed "unnecessarily".

Les Morris, was heartbroken when eight of his animals were seized for slaughter from his farm near Bersham in February.

Three calving cows were killed on his yard as they could not be transported to a Cheshire slaughterhouse.

The farmer lost 30 animals, a third of his herd, after he was paid several visits by contractors working for the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). His farm, Cadwgan Hall, was quarantined, leaving him unable to move any of the rest of his herd.

But now post-mortems and tests on the dead animals have shown none of them were infected by Bovine TB.

Since the Welsh Government introduced its Bovine TB Eradication Programme there has been a steep rise (12 per cent last year) in the number of cattle slaughtered which farming unions have described as "completely unacceptable".

Mr Morris has received compensation for his slaughtered animals, although current rates could be under review. But he says the damage wreaked to his livelihood includes not only the extra costs of maintaining a quarantined herd, but the loss of bloodline in the breed.

"It has been devastating to lose these cattle. The post-mortems were all negative and now we have had the culture test results back and they are clear too," said the farmer.

"The Ministry will now come back out and retest and we need to have two clear tests with a 60-day interval between. Hopefully, then, we can resume business in three months.

"We'd normally be selling calves and although we are allowed to sell beef cattle we can't sell at auction.

"Then there's never enough room for the animals we can't move on and there is the cost of their extra food."

The Bovine TB rules have hit Welsh farmers hard, but NFU Cymru says the strategy is not having a sufficient impact on the problem.

Mr Morris' slaughtered animals - one of which gave birth to a calf minutes before being killed - were flagged up as being at risk of carrying the disease after blood tests despite having passed traditional tuberculin skin tests.

Farmers have questioned the accuracy of the testing process.

"The testing needs to be far more accurate. There are pockets of TB that need to be sorted out, but they appear to be in the wrong areas and they are shooting the wrong cattle," added the farmer.

NFU Cymru Deputy President Aled Jones said: “It is 18 months since the refreshed Bovine TB Eradication Programme was launched and Welsh farmers will be questioning whether we will ever be rid of this disease. To see 11,233 cattle slaughtered in 2018 is completely unacceptable.

“The imposition of the severe interpretation skin tests and blood tests, while perhaps understandable from the disease control point of view, is devastating to many businesses who see their production base being taken from them and the consequential losses which are not compensated are massive to these businesses."

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “The TB eradication programme plays an important role in protecting public and animal health.We have made significant progress as we press on towards our goal of a TB free Wales."