Measures to counter the economic impact of reduced demand for store cattle in TB areas must be taken.

UNITED KINGDOM - Even if badger culling is introduced tomorrow it will still take several years to wipe out the TB scourge, the National Beef Association has warned.
calendar icon 11 December 2006
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And this means that if suckled calf breeders in South West England, Wales, and the West Midlands are to take advantage of much hoped for TB reductions when government eventually bites the culling bullet, they also need to adopt short term measures to make sure they can cope with increasingly strong reactions to the disease from farmers in non-TB areas while it is still being brought under control.

“Everyone hopes that government will soon accept that badger culling cannot be avoided and this will eventually result in less new TB outbreaks being discovered, explained NBA chairman, Duff Burrell.

“But in the meantime it is obvious to the Association that fear of TB is driving more farmers outside the hot spots to be more careful about introducing the disease.”

“This mounting caution has already resulted in noticeably less, long distance, demand for store stock from within hot spots and the introduction of pre-movement testing has also raised awareness among farmers in three-four year testing areas of the need to do all that can be done to reduce the risk of being in a one-two year testing parish themselves – or even being hit with the nightmare of a TB2 restriction.”

According to the NBA the most sensible strategic move has already been adopted by some suckled calf breeders who have suitable farms.

“These have decided to reduce the damage caused by an unexpected TB2 by cutting back on cow numbers and electing to finish their calves themselves rather than risk being caught with an unsaleable crop of spring born calves, on a crowded farm, after an autumn TB test,” said Mr Burrell.

“The introduction of pre-movement testing (PrMT) has accelerated this move and the Association expects more breeders to move temporarily towards the breeding/feeding route as a precaution.”

And if reduced demand for stock from outside buyers is to be countered without forcing an overall reduction in store cattle prices within TB regions it may be necessary for more farmers in the hot spots to move into specialist finishing.

Source: Farming UK
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