THE TB99 survey for bovine TB has been replaced with a shorter, simpler questionnaire which should take much less time to complete.

DEFRA has used the data collected by TB99 to produce the more focused Case Control Study (CCS2005).

It hopes by cutting the amount of paperwork, more producers will be persuaded to supply data which will help identify key factors affecting the spread of the disease.

The new form will take less than half the time, about one hour, to complete, said a DEFRA spokesman.

It will provide information for the Independent Scientific Group on Cattle TB (ISG) to analyse, the results of which will be published in late 2006.

CCS2005 has been extended to cover a range of TB-risk areas and across the border into Wales, rather than just farms in established hotspot areas.

Questions about insignificant factors such as type of bedding in housing, other diseases and boundary-related data have now been dropped.

“Others have been redesigned to give more clarity such as cattle accommodation, fertiliser usage and domesticated species contacts,” said the spokesman.

Lancs-based vet Carl Padgett of Bay Vet Group welcomed the changes because he believes it will generate more statistically viable data.

“There was no incentive for producers to supply data because TB99 was too long and complicated,” he said.

While Lancs remains a low-risk area, Mr Padgett is keen to identify factors which increase the risk of a TB breakdown.

“But we also need careful analysis of information to look at cause and effect differences between farms,” he added.

Although NFU TB specialist Jan Rowe agreed a simpler survey was more likely to be completed, its weakness continued to be the lack of suitable control farms, he said.

“We need three control farms for every breakdown farm, but control farms are those that have had no breakdown in the past year. It might be better concentrating on farms in hotspot areas that have never had a breakdown.”