Livestock News

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TB sees 38,010 cows culled in Great Britain in 2012 a 9.6% increase from 2011

More than 38,000 cows have been compulsorily slaughtered because of TB in Great Britain in 2012 and 28,284 in England alone. These startling new figures released by Defra today show almost a 10 per cent increase in cattle slaughtered because of TB in Great Britain compared to 2011.


With 2012 also recording the highest number of cattle slaughtered in England due to TB in a decade, they show more and more farmers are battling TB on their farms. The results also bring the total number of cows slaughtered because of TB in Great Britain since 2010 to 105,078 and 79,365 in England alone since 2010.


Todays new figures come despite increased cattle controls, additional pre-movement testing and stricter on-farm biosecurity measures which were introduced in July last year. More new tough on-farm rules were also introduced in January 2013 as part of the Governments TB eradication plan which aims to tackle all aspects of TB infection in the countryside.


NFU President Peter Kendall said that the figures hammer home the fact that TB is out of control and that cattle measures alone will not help to combat the disease. TB is one of the largest threats facing our beef and dairy farmers, he said. In 1998 we had 6,000 cattle with TB in the whole of Great Britain. From today we see that by the end of 2012 this figure has jumped to 38,010 – 28,284 in England alone. This means we have seen almost ten per cent more cattle culled in Great Britain, and a seven per cent increase in England, because of TB since 2011. And it is not just in endemic areas, TB is creeping into new areas like the North and East Midlands, Cheshire and the South East. This has to stop.


Today, I repeat our commitment to the Governments TB eradication plan which involves tighter cattle controls and increased on-farm biosecurity and we remain convinced that, as todays figures clearly demonstrate, cattle controls alone are not enough to tackle this disease while we have a reservoir of TB in our wildlife. Badger controls play a fundamental part in ridding our countryside of TB once and for all.


Other key figures published today show:

  • The number of TB tests carried out in 2012 in England was 5,849,498, up from 5,493,311 in 2011. This reflects the increased testing being undertaken to monitor the spread of the disease.
  • The number of new TB incidents in herds was 3,941 an increase of five per cent from 2011 (3763 incidents)
  • Figures from Wales also show a 15.5 per cent increase in cattle slaughtered in 2012 compared to 2011, despite strict cattle controls and badger vaccine trials.

Other farming organisations have also expressed concern in the increased number of cows being slaughtered due to TB.


Nick Allen, sector director of Eblex, the levy organisation for the beef and sheep sector in England, said: Todays statistics are proof of the ever-growing threat tuberculosis poses to the British cattle industry, and its future viability.


It is vital that industry and Government work in partnership to deliver a comprehensive range of control measures to tackle this disease. While we recognise the work being done to develop an efficient and cost-effective vaccine for both badgers and for cattle to help stop the spread of the disease, Eblex continues to support the Secretary of State and the Ministers efforts in limiting the impact of TB on our industry.


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.


Duncan Pullar, sector director of DairyCo, the levy organisation for the dairy sector in Great Britain, said: Bovine tuberculosis is one of the most serious problems facing the dairy industry at present. These figures demonstrate the growing threat of the disease.


It has a devastating effect on many dairy farming businesses and families and we continue to support the Secretary of State and the Ministers efforts in limiting the impact of bTB on our dairy industry.




  • Written by: Farmers Guide
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