October 24, 2003



Defra Helps in Prevention of Cattle-to-Cattle TB Spread in UK


In the United Kingdom, moves are being made to help prevent cattle-to-cattle spread of TB through restrictions on herds with overdue TB tests.


As many as 4,559 farms, covering 3% of all cattle herds, are now under TB2 restriction.


Everything possible must be done to lessen the annual spread of the disease, according to the National Beef Association, which welcomes the move.


NBA TB committee chairman George Richardson said: "We have no doubt that contact between infected badgers and TB-free cattle is the main cause and remain fiercely critical of the Government's unwillingness to tackle the TB problem at its root.


"However, cattle-to-cattle spread is still a significant factor and because this is wholly within farmers' control, more must be done to reduce it."


According to the NBA, 37pc of all TB tests that are late are more than three months' overdue and 6% is overdue by more than a year.


Mr Richardson said: "This is a totally unsatisfactory situation and we are worried that some tests may be deliberately delayed by stock owners who are afraid a positive test result will prevent them putting animals on the market.


"In view of this, our clear advice to purchasers, especially those buying replacement breeding stock, is to demand evidence that they are not taking animals from a farm where the TB test is overdue, because this will reduce the risk of them importing TB and having their farm put under a costly and damaging lock up."


On October 1 Defra began sending letters to all farms with overdue tests. The purpose is to warn them a duration of three months given to produce a completed test chart or be put under movement restriction.


Mr Richardson said: "Defra figures show that 424 farm tests are overdue by more than six months and it is impossible to argue against the action it has taken, because farms that are free from TB must be protected.


"We are sure that the three months warning gives enough time to book a vet."
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