Farmers will be now able to know if bovine TB is in their midst thanks to a new online map.
Defra has launched an interactive map called Information bTB (ibTB) showing the locations of TB breakdowns, including outbreaks resolved in the past five years in England.
“We hope this publicly available map will help cattle keepers and vets to visualise the TB situation in the areas they farm and help manage the TB risks to herds,” said Defra, in a statement.
The map provides a variety of ways to select and view the data. It can be searched either by entering a county parish holding (CPH) or a postcode.
Users can also zoom in and out of the map. However, it does not display names, addresses and individual farm holding numbers.
Breakdowns are displayed as coloured bubbles. By zooming out, breakdowns can be grouped together and zooming in allows users to see individual breakdowns.
The point marked on the map is the address of the holding, and in a few cases it may not be the location of the breakdown cattle herd.
The TB Order (England) 2014 includes a provision allowing Defra to publish TB breakdown information to help ensure cattle keepers are aware of the TB risks in their area and so are better equipped to protect their herds.
The Bovine TB Eradication Advisory Group for England (TBEAG), National Farmers Union and others have all provided positive input into the development of the map
The interactive map is not real-time, but is updated monthly. The date of the last data upload is shown on the front page.
If information on holdings/locations/TB breakdowns is incorrect, users can contact Defra’s Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) by emailing email@example.com
They can request information to be assessed and updated.
Defra is welcoming user comments on ibTB to improve the service. Currently, only TB breakdowns in cattle herds are shown. However, upgrades and changes to the map may be made in the future.
Plans for the online map were announced in September amid a raft of tough TB rules for cattle, deer and camelids in England to help stop the spread of disease.
A Defra spokesman said: “Our long-term strategy to eradicate bovine TB is fully operational and on track, thanks to tighter cattle movement controls, vaccination and culling where the disease is rife.
“We have worked closely with farmers and vets to implement the strategy over the past two years and we will continue to do so in this parliament.
“New measures to protect our beef and dairy industry from this devastating disease will be announced in due course.”
Farmers in England and Wales were paid nearly £42m in compensation last year for animals slaughtered because of bovine TB, according to the APHA.