Bovine TB testing scheme hailed success

Welsh officials are hailing their bovine TB testing scheme a success after it resulted in the slaughter of 185 infected cattle from 96 herds, which were thought to be disease-free.

TB Health Check Wales is the Welsh Assembly Government’s 15-month initiative to test all 13,130 registered cattle herds in Wales to get a more accurate picture of the spread of bovine TB across the region.

All registered herds in Wales have had a TB test during the past 15 months or have a test booked for early in the New Year, while the number of overdue tests has been reduced from 711 to just six at the end of November.

Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones said: “Not only has TB Health Check Wales given us a clear picture of disease levels in Wales, but it has helped to stop the disease from establishing itself in new areas. This is due to early identification of incidents of the disease, and rapid removal of the sources of infection.”

Tony Edwards, director Wales for Animal Health, thanked vets and farmers for completing the tests on time: “Their tireless work, and the results they have achieved, will have a significant impact on how bovine TB is managed in Wales in the future.”

From 1 January 2010, all cattle herds in Wales will require an annual test and will need to test their cattle before moving them.

The TB Eradication Programme for Wales was set up in 2007. In 2008, more than 12,000 cattle were slaughtered because of the disease and nearly £25m was paid in compensation to farmers.