A total of 96 cattle animals a day were slaughtered because of bovine TB during the first four months of 2013, according to DEFRA’s latest statistics.

There were 12,006 cattle killed in Great Britain between January and April 2013 as a result of the disease.

The bulk of these were in England, which saw 9,503 cattle slaughtered either as reactors or direct contacts.

The figures show a small drop on the same period in 2012, which saw 12,279 animals slaughtered.

However, DEFRA has pointed out that the TB incidence rate – defined as the percentage of tests on officially TB-free herds that resulted in the TB-free status being withdrawn – went up from 3.8% in April 2012 to 4.1% in April 2013.

DEFRA farm minister David Heath said: “Once again these figures show the very real need to stop TB from its relentless march across the countryside.

“Every month thousands of animals infected with TB are sent to the slaughterhouse at huge cost to the farming industry and the taxpayer.

“That is why we have launched our TB eradication strategy, setting out our plan to make England TB-free within 25 years. Bovine TB is the most pressing animal health problem in the UK, threatening cattle farmers’ livelihoods, our farming industry as well as the health of wildlife and livestock and we must do all we can to get on top of it.”

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