Bovine TB is one of the biggest issues facing the industry today. A devisive issue among politicians, farmers and animal welfare groups, it is one the new Government has vowed to tackle. Find out more about bovine TB, it’s spread and what is being done to control its spread in the UK.
Bovine TB continues to be farming’s most divisive issue. The polarised debate is summarised by the two different approaches being taken on each side of the English-Welsh border.
In England, pilot badger culls are due take place in Gloucestershire and Somerset over the summer with a view to up 40 new cull areas being licensed over the next four years.
In Wales, plans for a badger cull in Pembrokeshire were rejected in favour of a Government-funded badger vaccination policy.
In both countries, action to address the disease in wildlife is being accompanied by a tightening of cattle controls, particularly regarding testing rules and movement restrictions.
A new comprehensive TB strategy for England is due in the summer. It promises some fresh thinking on all aspects of the disease, including wildlife control, cattle and badger vaccination, movement controls, testing, administration and compensation.
While all this is happening, the disease continues to spread across England and Wales. Around 38,000 cattle were slaughtered because of the disease in Britain in 2012. The disease is costing the taxpayer around £100 million a year.
While debate rages between farmers, politicians, scientists and animal welfare campaigners on the right way to address the problem, particularly whether to cull or vaccinate, everyone agrees on one thing. Something has to be done to get on top of cattle farming’s biggest problem.
Farmers Guardian’s ‘TB hot topics’ section features all the latest news on bovine TB as it happens, as well as features and videos highlighting the human cost of living with the disease and on the scientific, historic and political backdrop to the great TB debate.
We also provide as many links as we can to useful websites containing information on TB policy, science and views from both sides of the argument.
What is bovine TB?
Bovine TB is a disease of cattle and other mammals. It arises from infection by the bacteria Mycobacterium bovis.
How is it spread?
Bovine TB is spread primarily through the exchange of respiratory secretions between infected and uninfected animals. This transmission usually happens when animals are in close contact with each other.
The main sources of infection in cattle are other cattle or badgers.