Bovine TB – An Update

Carolyn Baguley explains Defra’s expansion to the ‘Edge’ area of England and the measures you can take to control bTB on your farm.

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Carolyn Baguley MA VetMB Cert AVP (Cattle) MRCVS explains Defra’s expansion to the ‘Edge’ area of England and the measures you can take to control bTB on your farm.

You may be aware that Defra have recently announced an expansion to the ‘Edge’ area of England, along with new cattle testing arrangements, to come into effect from 1st January 2018.

Enhanced Surveillance and Control Measures

Derbyshire, previously part Edge and part HRA (high risk area), will now become fully Edge. The part that was previously HRA (i.e. Derbyshire West) will now be subject to six-monthly testing. The rest of the county will remain on annual testing supplemented with radial testing to check for spread to neighbouring cattle herds within a 3km radius of TB breakdown herds with lesions and/or culture positive animals. These enhanced surveillance and control measures in the Edge area aim to protect other cattle herds and reduce the risk of establishment of new infection in badgers.

Measures To Control bTB

It’s important, however, that we don’t just rely on testing to try and control TB. There are a whole host of other measures that farmers can take to try and protect cattle from TB infection.

Some measures may require significant time and investment, but others will be easy to implement. Infected badgers excrete vast numbers of TB bacteria in their urine, so feed contaminated by badger urine carries a high risk of transmitting TB infection to cattle. Closing off feed stores at night (making sure that any gaps around doorways are less than 7.5cm) will prevent access by badgers.

Another easy gain is to stop infected cattle entering the herd by asking for TB history information before buying cattle, and by isolating and post-movement testing all higher-risk cattle before they enter the herd. Visit ibtb.co.uk to find out about TB breakdowns in different areas of the country.

TB bacteria can live in manure for up to six months, so storing manure for extended periods before spreading it on pasture can help reduce the risk of infection. And don’t spread manure from other farms!

Visit the TB Hub website for more information and ideas. Please do take the opportunity to speak to your vet – you don’t need to wait until your test to discuss TB control!

Are your buildings secure? Badgers can squeeze through gaps of 7.5cm or over. If their skull can fit through, the rest of the badger can usually follow! This door’s badger-proof, but only just – the gaps at the sides are 7cm. The concrete is solid, so badgers can’t burrow underneath.

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