The number of cattle culled to combat bovine tuberculosis rose by 15% to 35,000 between January and November 2012, according to DEFRA.

The figures for the slaughter of TB test reactors and close contacts, show 4,000 more cattle were killed compared with the same period in 2011. It means that 2012 saw just 500 fewer cattle killed than in 2009, the worst year on record.

The rise reflected an increase in testing on herds, from 56,525 to 67,918 between January and November, as DEFRA continued to tighten its control on herd movements. The tougher controls meant that as many as 8,500 farms were under restriction in 2012 at any one time.

DEFRA’s figures also reveal that the disease was found on hundreds more farms during 2012. New herd incidents during January to November 2012 rose to 4,761 from 4,469 for the same period in 2011, an increase of 6%.

England recorded the bulk of incidents at 3,605 and saw 25,964 cattle slaughtered up to November 2012.

An NFU spokesman said the figures could yet see 2012 marked as the worst on record, once the December figures are added to the tally.

“The reactors are still going down in the known endemic areas of England with a steady increase on the edges of those zones,” the spokesman said.

“It adds weight to the call for the controlled and targeted badger cull to go ahead,” he added.

More on this topic

Keep up with the latest news on bovine tuberculosis

Jon Riley on G+