Pre-Election Commitment To TB Eradication Wanted

UK - The Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers has appealed to parliamentary candidates to commit to practical measures towards TB eradication.
calendar icon 14 April 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

Not only is there strong evidence that culling up to 40,000 reactors per year at a tax payer cost of £90m is failing to reduce the incidence of TB in cattle, but it is also having major knock on effects within the national herd, says chairman, David Cotton.

“The total number of TB incidents in dairy herds coupled with reactors slaughtered has increased dramatically over the past decade, with the total number of animals slaughtered increasing by nearly 30,000,” he explains.

“These farmers are suffering from the immediate loss of animals within their herd as well as movement restrictions and financial inconvenience. For example, in 2007/08 TB slaughterings amounted to 16,192 milking cows or 0.8 per cent of the dairy herd contributing over 114 million litres to the milk pool. In view of the fact the current trend in increased slaughterings is likely to continue, then this year we could expect that figure to increase to over 21,000 head slaughtered representing more than one per cent of the dairy herd.

“There is also the knock on effect of lost lifetime performance, as well as herd genetics. In addition, these losses are undoubtedly reducing the number of replacements available, and equally alarming, they are making a significant contribution to the increase in imports,” says Mr Cotton. Last year British cattle imports escalated to more than 39,000 head.

“We are aware of the importance of the rural vote in this election, therefore we would urge candidates to support scientific findings which indicate the only way to control TB not only in cattle, but also in badgers is to hit hard all sides of the disease,” he explains.

“A cull of infected badgers must be included in any future Government policy, along with proper movement controls, rigorous testing including the use of gamma interferon, and culling of the infected wildlife reservoir,” he said welcoming the conservative party’s support for a targeted cull in England.

“We look forward to the next Government reviewing current policy and implementing one that will prove both efficient and cost effective by controlling and eradicating TB.”

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