Badgers could be vaccinated on farms in six areas of Wales as the fight is stepped up against bovine TB in cattle.
The Welsh Assembly government wants to increase the role played by private vets in helping farmers manage TB breakdowns and minimise their impact.
It is launching an initiative called Cymorth TB – which translates as Support TB – to provide practical support and advice to cattle keepers in Wales.
Private vets will be encouraged to suggest which elements of veterinary and farm management advice they believe is most appropriate for their farming clients.
Options will include providing advice on biosecurity, farm management and cattle trading strategy – as well as badger vaccination.
The first part of Cymorth TB is a pilot project across six areas, which will test an enhanced disease management role for private veterinarians.
Wales’ chief veterinary officer Christianne Glossop told Farmers Weekly the key aim was to minimise the impact of TB and clear up breakdowns more quickly.
“We want to gain a clear understanding of what tools are most relevant in different areas.”
The project would see the “dream combination” of an epidemiologist, government veterinary officer and local private vets working together focusing on individual disease clusters.
“That is the model that we need to roll out across Wales,” said Dr Glossop. “That is how we will eradicate TB from Wales.”
If vets proposed badger vaccination, then the recommendation would be carefully considered, Dr Glossop added.
The pilot will run from autumn 2013 until late spring 2014, after which a decision over a wider future roll-out of the programme to the rest of Wales will be taken.
Badgers are already being vaccinated in North Pembrokeshire as part of a five-year programme to combat bovine TB. This area will also be part of the Cymorth TB project area.
The five additional Cymorth TB project areas are in Anglesey, East Carmarthenshire, East Monmouthshire, Gower, and an area around Wrexham.
Veterinary training events and workshops have taken place throughout the summer in advance of the pilot project starting this autumn.
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