Cattle buyers urged to be vigilant

Farmers in the North of England are being advised to request information on the TB history of cattle they buy to reduce the risk of their herds being infected with the disease.

Cattle buyers should adopt risk-based trading, according to Farming Minister George Eustice.

The North and East of the country are classed as low risk areas for bovine TB but the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs wants farmers in these areas to embrace risk-based trading which gives farmers vital information about the animals they are buying and helps them to assess and manage the risk of their herds being infected with bovine TB.

Controlling the spread of the disease among cattle is one of the biggest challenges facing the farming industry, and two pilot badger culls to halt the disease being dispersed by wildlife were controversially carried out last year in the South of England where the disease is most prevalent.

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Farming Minister, George Eustice said: “Introducing new animals to a herd can be a potential disease risk.

“Farms in the North and East of England are for the most part free of bovine TB and we want to do everything we can to prevent the spread of disease to these parts of the country.

“Risk-based trading will help us do just that. It is an important tool that gives farmers the ability to reduce the risk to their livelihoods from the threat of this terrible disease, which can have a devastating impact on farms and lead to the slaughter of otherwise healthy cattle.”

Defra advises that before farmers buy stock to add to their herd they should find out the animals’ TB history by asking sellers, as a minimum, for the date of the animal’s last pre-movement test where applicable, the date of the last routine herd test, and if the herd has ever had TB and, if it has, when it last came off restrictions.