A series of free one-day workshops to provide farmers with advice and practical tips on new government measures aimed at stamping out bovine TB infection on farms in “edge areas” will be held next month.

The meetings, sponsored by DEFRA and the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA), will be run across England from 2-23 October.

They will be an opportunity for local farmers and those involved in the livestock industry to keep up to date with the new legislation and learn practical measures to minimise the risk of infection on farm.

Experienced vets and a badger ecologist from the AHVLA will lead the meetings. They will cover a range of topics, including the latest news on TB in your area, an update on the legal requirements, new edge measures and how TB testing works.

Dates and locations for the meetings include: 

Cheshire (east) – 2 October
East Sussex – 9 October
Derbyshire – 15 October
Leicestershire – 15 October
Warwickshire/Northants – 16 October
Cheshire (west) – 21 October
Oxfordshire – 22 October
Hampshire – 23 October

All meetings start at 6.30pm (except Derbyshire 11.30am) and are free to attend. A light supper will be provided. For more details and to book your place at the meeting please contact the FarmSkills team on 01765 608 489 / farmskills@xlvets.co.uk

There will also be an opportunity to hear about real-life experiences of TB and understand how badger ecology works.

Bovine TB is endemic in parts of the South West, including Somerset and Gloucestershire, where pilot badger culls aimed at controlling the reservoir of disease in wildlife are under way.

However, there is growing concern that if the disease is left unchecked, it could similarly devastate neighbouring counties where confirmed cases are much lower.

Counties in the edge area include Cheshire, East Sussex, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Berkshire, Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire and Hampshire.

In August, farm minister David Heath announced a raft of strict measures aimed at limiting the spread of bovine TB to edge counties. These include stricter rules on TB testing, breaking of Cattle Tracing System links between edge areas and high-risk areas and more funding for badger vaccination trials.

The government estimates that stamping out bovine TB in these edge areas will save farmers an estimated £27m over 10 years.

A DEFRA statement said: “Bovine TB is endemic in major parts of the South West, and there is growing concern about the spread of disease northwards and eastwards into counties within the edge area.”

Peter Jones, president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), said: “Targeting specific measures at the edge area surrounding the high-incidence areas is a sensible approach if we are to stop the advancing spread of this disease further north and eastwards.

“The edge area strategy recognises the role of both cattle movements and wildlife in the spread of bovine TB, and the need for extra effort to understand the dynamics of infection in cattle, badgers and between the two species.

“Additional investment in our knowledge of the disease to help us understand what drives the advancing edge will also be crucial in our holistic approach to tacking this disease.”

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DEFRA targets bovine TB in ‘edge area’