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Defra stats reveal rise in bovine TB, 28,000 cattle slaughtered

Staff writer |
Figures by Defra show that more than 28,000 cattle were slaughtered in England last year after testing positive for bTB.

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They also show more than 3,950 herds that had previously been clear of the disease were affected by it.

The stats show that new herd incidents and herds under disease restrictions rose in England in the year to December 2015, but in Scotland and Wales disease levels remained relatively unchanged.

The number of animals slaughtered under TB control rules declined in the edge and low-risk areas of England and in Scotland, but rose in Wales and the High-risk area of England.

Upon releasing the figures, Defra said “Short term changes in these statistics should be considered in the context of long term trends.” The long-term data suggest “There has been an overall long-term upward trend in the incidence of TB in cattle herds in England and Wales since 1996 [when the stats release began] although there is evidence that the rate of new incidents is levelling off in most areas of the country.”

However, in Wales, the situation appears to have eased somewhat since 2012.

Figures showing a rise in bTB were published just before new cattle-based control measures come into force in England.

Tighter movement restrictions and government funded pre-sales testing between risk areas will come into force on 6th April, and animal health agency APHA will begin offering private Interferon Gamma blood tests to diagnose TB under certain conditions.

On Wednesday, NFU Deputy President Minette Batters said, “These figures make sombre reading for anyone who is fighting a daily battle against bovine TB or has experienced the devastation it can cause to a farming family business.”

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