Our Highland bull, Eric, is sadly no longer fertile. Back in September, we discovered that none of our 5 Highland cows were pregnant and Eric has since undergone blood and fertility tests to unearth the cause of the problem.

A blood test has shown that Eric has a condition called Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR) and has also been in contact with the Schmallenburg virus, both of which can affect fertility.  Eric has shown no signs of improvement during several palpation examinations over the last 4 months. A recent fertility test has indicated a history of Vesiculitis and a high mortality rate of sperm in a substandard sample.  At Cotswold Farm Park we run a breeding program for rare and native breeds and we must have a fertile bull with each herd to ensure that the cows can continue to have calves. We cannot keep Eric on site as we operate a high health status for our farm animals and there would be a risk of him infecting other cattle on our farm.

Farmers do have to replace bulls when they become incapable of serving the cows or when their daughters come in to the herd, as Eric’s will next year, and one option would be to have him slaughtered. In this instance we have decided to look for a home elsewhere as he is one of my favourites and so loved by Countryfile viewers.

We have had some offers from farmers who wish to re-home Eric for conservation grazing, or with a herd of cows who are artificially inseminated and therefore have no bull living with them. They will have to vaccinate their cattle against IBR though, or risk them getting infected. We hope that Countryfile will follow Eric’s story through his re-homing process and we are busy collating enquiries to find a suitable new owner for him.

Adam with Eric the Highland Bull