More than 17,000 cattle were slaughtered in the UK in the first six months of 2014 because of bovine TB, new government figures show.

The figures, which have been collated by Defra, showed a marginal decline in the number of cattle slaughtered in this country as a result of TB over the first six months of 2014.

From January to June 2014, 17,063 cattle were slaughtered as direct contacts or TB reactors – compared with 17,282 over the same period in 2013.

See also: Farmer in cull zone TB-free after agonising struggle

The number of new herds affected by bovine TB from January to June was 2,398, compared with 2,535 for January to June 2013.

The provisional incidence rate – the proportion of herds that return positive tests for bovine TB – for January to July was 3.6% and the number of tests on officially-free TB herds was 42,819.

A Defra spokesman said: “Bovine TB is a huge threat to our beef and dairy farmers, our economy and our food security. It is vital that we beat this disease and doing nothing is not an option.

“That is why we are pursuing a comprehensive strategy including tighter movement controls, vaccinations and culling badgers targeted where TB is rife.”