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UK: More frequent cattle testing to boost fight against bovine TB

Staff Writer |
Bovine TB will be caught and stamped out more quickly in England’s cattle herds under plans to strengthen testing in the highest-risk areas of the country.

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Six monthly routine tests will be introduced for all herds in the High Risk Area – mainly the South West and parts of the Midlands – with annual tests preserved for herds that have gone five or more years without disease, and farms accredited under the Cattle Herd Certification Standards (CHeCS) scheme, requiring tougher biosecurity measures to be observed.

Grants to vaccinate badgers in the Edge Area of the country – the ‘buffer’ between the High Risk and Low Risk Areas – are also available now for schemes to run next year.

These moves are part of the government’s comprehensive 25-year plan to eradicate bovine TB in England and come as recent peer-reviewed researchshows badger control in Gloucestershire (58%) and Somerset (21%) – where culling began in 2013 – has contributed to significant reductions in the disease in herds.

Results also confirm that all 19 licensed intensive badger control operations achieved the badger population reductions needed to realise disease control benefits.

In the Edge Area of the country, testing frequency will become more risk-based from January 2018, with more herds undertaking six-monthly testing.

his will help vets identify and address outbreaks more quickly, helping to stop the spread of disease to new areas.

The government is offering grants under the Badger Edge Vaccination Scheme, which recommences in 2018 and aims to create a buffer zone between the highest- and lowest-risk disease areas of England.

The scheme is open for the first round of applications until 19 January and successful applicants will receive a government grant for at least 50% of their costs from a fund worth £700,000 over four years.

Dealing with Bovine TB in England costs taxpayers over £100 million a year, required the culling of more than 29,000 cattle in 2016 and causes devastation and distress for rural communities.

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