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Free TB advice service to go England-wide from autumn

From autumn, the TB Advisory Service (TBAS), which offers free biosecurity advice, will be available to all farmers in England who keep livestock susceptible to TB, rather than just those in high risk and edge areas.

The expansion of TBAS, which is led by VetPartners, will allow more farmers to benefit from the tools and know-how to assess what can be controlled on-farm, to reduce the risk and length of a TB breakdown, says TBAS technical director Sarah Tomlinson.

“The expansion to TBAS means we can help farmers do everything within their power to prevent the spread of TB into previously unaffected locations,” she explains. “At VetPartners we witness the devastation caused by TB first-hand, both for farm businesses and the mental health of people affected by an outbreak. This is why it’s crucial for farmers to get independent veterinary advice, bespoke to their farm, free of charge.”

Mrs Tomlinson explains that pigs, sheep, goats, deer and camelids can all be infected with TB, so it makes complete sense to extend the service to all livestock sectors, giving farmers more control over TB through simple cost-effective changes to farm biosecurity measures.

How to access the service

To use the service, the first step is for farmers to get in touch with TBAS directly. The service offers over-the-phone advice on how to stop infected livestock coming on-farm, reduce the risk from other livestock, minimise infection from manure and restrict contact between badgers and livestock by managing access to feed and water.

The main part of the service offers free farm visits, in which a TBAS-trained vet comes out to the farm to provide tailored advice focused on TB biosecurity and how to reduce the impact reactors can have on a farm business.

“A visit from a TBAS advisor, who is often a vet from their local practice, can provide reassurance for a farmer who may be worried about the risk of TB to their farm. Working together with a TBAS advisor will help them to understand what they can control on-farm to reduce risk of disease or the impact of an outbreak,” says Mrs Tomlinson.

Bespoke advice from network of vets

The TBAS service fits into the wider strategies in place to get a handle on the disease, which include testing, badger culling and vaccinations.

To deliver the extended nationwide support, VetPartners will draw on the existing network of vets who are trained to offer bespoke advice on biosecurity measures to reduce the spread of TB, and will also upskill additional vets in areas where more TBAS-trained vets are needed.

TBAS is now entirely vet-led, as VetPartners has teamed up with IVC, UK Farmcare and Obligace to form Farmcare Solutions, the group selected by Defra to deliver the service for the next three years. The project is funded by Defra but delivered by trusted independent farm vets.

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