New Government Figures Reveal Rise In Bovine TB

UK - Government figures have revealed the number of bovine tuberculosis (TB) incidences has risen in 2011 despite stringent cattle controls.
calendar icon 24 June 2011
clock icon 2 minute read
National Farmers Union

Provisional figures released by Defra compare January to March 2011 with the same period in 2010 and showed a rise of 6.3 per cent nationally. Some regions were hit much harder than the national average with rises in new cases of over 30 per cent.

The figures come despite claims from some groups that current cattle control measures were reducing the spread of the disease.

National Farmers' Union (NFU) chief farm policy adviser John Royle said: “We are not surprised to see an increase in new incidents. We have seen the incidence and number of animals slaughtered each month rise and fall before but there can be no doubt that we continue to see an upward trend in cows being slaughtered having tested positive for bovine TB. The total number of cattle slaughtered in 2010 reached 32,000.

“Farmers are working really hard to protect their cows using regular testing, isolation of infected cattle before slaughter, herd restrictions preventing trade, the slaughter of dangerous contacts and testing every 60 days until the herd has two clear tests. But still the national and regional incidence of TB in our herds continues to rise unabated.

“These figures clearly demonstrate that despite all the cattle controls in place we are not stopping the spread of TB. Improved wildlife biosecurity awareness has led to practical measures being taken on farm and the industry recognises the role it can play in reducing the impact of TB on farm. However it is not a guaranteed safeguard from infection. We must break the cycle of infection from badgers to cattle, or we will never be able to get on top of this terrible disease.

“The NFU is urging Ministers to make a decision as promised and allow for trained professionals to apply for licences to carry out badger control in areas where the level of disease is persistent and high. This kind of measure is very regrettable but it is absolutely necessary if we are to combat bovine TB on our farms. It is not about eradicating badgers, it is about controlling disease.

“We are committed to working with Government on a science-led policy to reach what must be the end goal for everyone; a healthy countryside for both badgers and cattle.”

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