Welsh TB cull: Tough rules in IAPA zone

Farmers in the North Pembrokeshire Intensive Action Pilot Area (IAPA) can expect to see cattle movement controls tightened, with loopholes in pre-movement testing stamped out, says Welsh chief vet Christianne Glossop.

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Speaking exclusively to Farmers Weekly, Dr Glossop said that farmers in the IAPA should expect to see changes in cattle movement controls.

“We will be looking at ways of tightening the current exemptions on pre-movement testing, particularly exemptions for cattle moving to shows.”


Christianne Glossop said farmers in the IAPA should expect to see changes in cattle movement controls

Changes will also affect farms with a sole occupancy authority covering units which are a significant distance apart and those where farmers operate an SOA with premises both inside the IAPA and outside it.

“Both these situations pose a real risk of TB being transferred into and out of the area,” Dr Glossop said.

“Importantly, the Welsh Assembly would be working with Animal Health in Wales to reduce the time taken to remove reactors from farms. We have got the waiting time down to 20 days across Wales, but by this time next year I want it down to 10 days and possibly lower within the IAPA.”

Pre-movement testing would also be applied to all cattle moving into the pilot cull area, no matter where they came from, she warned.

“There’s no way of knowing how safe a herd is in a four-year testing parish if the last TB test was three years and 11 months ago. We have to be sure there is no chance of bringing new sources of infection into the area,” she said.

But Dr Glossop was unsure whether post-movement testing of cattle will form part of the control regime, believing there may not be a significant benefit in doing so.

Crucially, the testing regime would not be increased beyond annual testing, she said.


“There doesn’t appear to be any benefit in moving to testing every six months and most herds in the IAPA are likely to be under TB restrictions and hence on 60-day testing anyway.”

But gamma-interferon testing may form part of the control regime in herds with TB breakdowns, provided it is deemed to have an effective role to play.

Dr Glossop was unable to outline any detail of the location of IAPA, but said the North Pembrokeshire coast formed a natural boundary, which would help limit any perturbation of badgers. “We can’t completely eliminate the risk of perturbation and will be looking closely at all geographical features of the region to find the most suitable area.”

Additionally, it may be up to 12 months before a cull gets under way, due to legal framework which needs to be put in place before it can start.

“The legislation has to be drawn up and consulted on and then passed through the assembly. Then there will be an intensive procurement process to appoint a contractor and we’ll have to face any legal challenges which may occur. So the earliest we’d be starting is this autumn and then there’s the need for a closed season, which could run from 1 January to 30 April, to be addressed.”

While acknowledging that licensing farmers to cull badgers themselves would have been a simpler strategy, she said the decision to employ third-party contractors would ensure an effective cull could be undertaken as efficiently as possible.

“We hope to see a significant reduction in TB incidence in the IAPA within two years, much quicker than if we opted for vaccination.”

Cull questions answered

Where will the cull take place?
On about 300 farms in an area of 200 square miles in north Pembrokeshire

How long will it last? 
A maximum of five years

How much will it cost? 
£4m a year, the cost of which will be taken from the assembly’s £27.7m TB eradication programme budget.

How many badgers will be killed?
About 80% of the 1000 badgers that live in the cull area

When will the cull start? 
This autumn at the earliest, but most likely next April after the closed season 

Read more about the Welsh badger cull>>