More cattle culled to halt bovine TB spread

AGRICULTURAL experts have reaffirmed their commitment to working with the Government to eradicate bovine tuberculosis (TB) in cattle after the number of cows culled to help combat the disease rose last year.

Some 38,010 cows were compulsorily slaughtered in Great Britain because of the disease in 2012, an increase of 9.6 per cent on the year before, the National Farmers’ Union said.

The data, released by Defra, shows the 28,284 cows culled in England alone is the highest number slaughtered due to TB in a decade.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The figures also show that around 300,000 more tests to monitor the disease had been carried out last year, compared with 2011 when around 5.3 million tests were undertaken.

In Yorkshire, the trend is more positive. The total number of slaughters across the county has declined over successive years since 2009, with 15 per cent fewer slaughters last year compared with 2011.

But NFU president Peter Kendall said the national figures show TB is ‘out of control’ and remains one of the largest threats facing beef and diary farmers.

He said: “I repeat our commitment to the Government’s TB eradication plan which involves tighter cattle controls and increased on-farm biosecurity and we remain convinced that, as today’s figures clearly demonstrate, cattle controls alone are not enough to tackle this disease. Badger controls play a fundamental part in ridding our countryside of TB once and for all.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The Government has announced two pilot culls of badgers, which can spread TB to cattle, in Somerset and Gloucestershire this summer.

Nick Allen, sector director of the beef and sheep levy organisation for England, Eblex, said: “Nobody should under-estimate the 
consequences of failing to act and the potential impact on breeding stock in the future, as well
as the commercial viability of 
beef enterprises across the country.”