The arrival of bovine TB after decades clear of the disease has pushed Kentisbury farmers Jim and Valerie Pile into selling most of their cattle herd.
They were shocked in March to find their Higher Week farm under restriction after a positive test.
And even though the farm has gone clear after recent tests Jim has decided to wind down the cattle enterprise and concentrate on his prize-winning Border Leicester sheep.
“I’d been thinking about (reducing) the cattle, but I suppose the TB made our minds up,” he told the Journal.
“It was a shock after all those years. I’ve been keeping cattle since 1970.
“I’ve no idea where it came from. I can’t say it if was badgers, I’m not a scientist. We do have deer up here,” he explained as he checked the remainder of his herd in the fields close to Kentisbury village.
The farm has been in his family since the 1800s, starting off on Jim’s mother’s side.
The couple’s flock of Border Leicester’s is one of the best in the South West, and this year they won the outright breed championship and reserve at Devon County Show with a ewe and a ram as well as best female and best male awards.
Jim and Valerie keep up to 1,000 ewes on 300 acres and have farmed a hundred-strong suckler herd of Hereford and Friesian cattle which has gradually reduced and most were sold at auction by Exmoor Farmers at Cutcombe.
Jim said:“I’m cutting back on the cattle. I might keep a few and buy some calves in the spring. I’ve got to the stage when I don’t want to be calving cows down and the TB situation didn’t help.
“But I’ll do the sheep now, and carry on showing.”
He was pleased with the sale which reachd £1475 for a Hereford Cow with her Limousin calf at foot and others up to £1245 for Hereford X Cows with Limousin X calves at foot.
The best of their in calf cows reached £790 with others to £775, a pair at £770 and a second pair to £730.
The bulling heifers concluded the dispersal sale to £732 and £570 for Hereford and Simmental Heifers respectively.