LATEST BOVINE tuberculosis statistics show a decline in incidence of the disease, with a 3% fall in reactors slaughtered compared with 2003.

Fewer herds – 4617 – suffered movement restrictions in the 10 months to October 2004 compared with 5003 in the same period of 2003, reports DEFRA.

But some of this fall may relate to a shrinking national herd, rather than a true reduction in disease.

Veterinary data collator Vetnet shows 92,893 herds registered in 2004, 4665 fewer than in 2003.

This decline in herds was not matched by the decline in new breakdowns, which fell by just 42 to 2676 in the 10 months to October.

In the same period, 16,866 cattle were slaughtered as reactors. Although that is 540 fewer than in 2003, it remains much higher than pre-2000 levels of about 7000 a year.