Farm groups have welcomed the ‘positive’ news that new TB incidents across Wales have dropped by 10 per cent in the 12 months to August 2020.
The latest statistics from Welsh Government, released in a statement this week (November 17), also showed there were 5.8 new herd incidents per 100 Official TB Free herd tests in 2019, which is the lowest level of herd incidence for 15 years.
Cattle slaughterings were down 18 per cent in the 12 months to August 2020 too, but from a record high in the previous year.
NFU Cymru deputy president Aled Jones said the figures were testament to the efforts of Welsh farmers, technicians and vets working with WG to combat bTB, but called on Ministers to address the reservoir of disease in the wildlife population alongside cattle controls.
“While there has been an 18 per cent reduction in the number of cattle slaughtered as a result of bovine TB in the last year, this still means there were 10,462 cattle slaughtered on farm in Wales in the last 12 months,” he said.
“We acknowledge the bovine TB picture is a complex one and there are no simple answers to ridding our country of this terrible disease, but it is still troubling to see such an enormous number of animals falling victim to bovine TB in Wales.”
An FUW spokesperson said there were ‘clearly some encouraging results’, but raised concerns that progress was not being made as quickly as in some areas of England.
“[Some] areas of the UK, in particular in the English badger culling areas, have seen a fall in incidences of 66 per cent and 37 per cent in Gloucestershire and Somerset respectively, the spokesman added.
Although the Welsh Government was keen to point out progress was being made in tackling bTB, the statement highlighted ‘growing concern’ about an increase in cases in the Low TB Area (LTBA) of North Wales.
According to preliminary assessments which identified the source of infection, at least 70 per cent of the open breakdowns in the LTBA at the end of March 2020 were directly attributable to cattle movements.
Rural Affairs Minister Lesley Griffiths said: “I urge anyone bringing cattle into the LTBA to carefully assess the risk presented by those animals through informed purchasing and to utilise tools such as the ibTB website.”