Dairy farmer Ben Prior is urging the Government to consider a badger cull after more than one quarter of his herd were lost to TB.

Mr Prior of Upper Combe Farm in Castle Combe has had 24 cows slaughtered and fears more may be killed when the remainder of his 90-strong herd is tested next month.

He said: "It's particularly bad now and will get worse if nothing is done to stop the spread of TB.

He believes the disease is spread by badgers.

"We have a number of sets on our land and badgers come into the yard and are very territorial so pee everywhere," he said.

"The cows then eat the grass which is contaminated with the TB virus. We can't vaccinate because there are so many strains of the disease.

"We can't fence the 800-acre farm off because it would require 10 miles of fencing and the badgers would probably dig underneath.

"We can't cull the badgers ourselves because that's illegal but unless something's done, we are going to lose our business."

Mr Prior, 23, said he only received compensation up to half the value of each cow and said plans to expand the organic farm had to be put on hold.

He said: "We are losing £120 a day for each cow that is slaughtered. Because we are organic, we have to buy conventional cows and convert them, which takes up to nine months."

The call comes as a Government select committee, of which North Wiltshire MP James Gray is a member, is due to report on the problem.

Mr Gray, who took part in months of discussions, said: "TB in cattle is a big problem.

"Farmers are losing cattle all the time and nobody really knows why but there's a very strong presumption that it comes from wildlife, particularly badgers.

He thought the answer lay somewhere between the calls to cull all badgers, and groups, such as the Badgers' Trust, which supports a total ban. Two previous Government reports provided contradictory evidence.