Urgent action is needed to combat incidents of bovine tuberculosis that are continuing to escalate, a dairy industry leader has warned.


One in five beef and dairy farms were placed under movement restrictions during 2010, according to the latest figures. Herd breakdowns in England increased by almost 9% to 3622 herds during 2010.

“TB’s tentacles are creeping further and further into dairy and beef herds up and down the country,” said David Cotton, chairman of the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers.

DEFRA is expected to unveil a new strategy – including a decision on a badger cull to combat bovine TB – this spring. In the meantime, the association wants the government to review its TB reactor clearance policy.

“While the industry is patiently awaiting DEFRA’s response to its consultation document on TB control measures, we would also urge it to review its policy on reactor disposal,” said Mr Cotton.

The two-week wait endured by farmers before reactor livestock were removed was unacceptable, said Mr Cotton. During that time, these cattle had to be isolated and ran the further risk of infecting wildlife, he said.

Instead, farmers should be able to dispose of livestock through specially approved slaughter premises and hauliers – similar to the methods used to dispose of fallen stock.

“Businesses are already under tremendous pressure from this insidious disease, which is not only a financial burden, but also creates an emotional drain on farming families.”