TB cattle control measures criticised in Wales

Cattle movement restrictions, which prevent Wales’ TB-restricted livestock farms from buying in cattle, must be reviewed, according to farming leaders.

On the first day of the Pembrokeshire County Agricultural Show, NFU Cymru said dairy and beef farmers are facing severe difficulties because of what it termed as ‘draconian’ bovine TB cattle control measures implemented by the Welsh Government.

North Pembrokeshire dairy farmer Andrew Lewis, who is NFU Cymru county chairman in Pembrokeshire, said some recently introduced control measures were strangling the industry.

“One example is the policy change implemented earlier this year, which now prevents the licensing of cattle movements onto a TB restricted farm prior to the completion of a Veterinary Risk Assessment and completion of a Short Interval TB Test, carried out 60 days after a reactor animal has left the farm,” he said.

“In reality, this policy means a TB restricted herd is now prevented from buying in cattle for at least two months. This can be a huge cost for dairy farmers who lose prime dairy cows and consequently suffer financially from loss of milk volume.”

The restriction also represents a major problem for beef finishing units which rely on buying in store cattle, Mr Lewis added.

Although farmers understood that the change was the result of an EU audit, he believed it was time to reconsider how farm businesses can continue to operate in the aftermath of a TB breakdown. “We believe that farmers should have the opportunity to work closely with their own vets so that, subject to a risk assessment and the approval of suitable separation facilities on the farm, new animals can be brought in without having to wait at least two months.

“NFU Cymru will continue to argue for the need for a fairer balance to be struck between introducing cattle control measures that can make a meaningful contribution to the fight against the spread of bovine TB, whilst at the same time ensuring that we can continue to run our cattle farming businesses.”

See our page on bovine TB and the badger cull