Producers whose herds are at risk of contracting Bovine Tuberculosis now have access to expert help for advice on protecting their livestock through a new Defra-funded advisory scheme.
The service, launched at the Dairy Show in Shepton Mallett, will provide both on-farm and phone or email advice to producers in ‘High Risk’ and ‘Edge Areas’ of England, with trained consultants offering advice to help prevent the spread of Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) based on the biosecurity five-point plan.
Highest incidence in Europe
It is an important part of the long-term plan to eradicate the disease in all animals. Bovine TB costs taxpayers more than £100m every year and England has the highest incidence of the disease in Europe. In 2016 more than 29,000 cattle were slaughtered in England to control the disease, causing devastation and distress for producers and rural communities.
The helpline will offer advice to producers on limiting on-farm disease risk, while farm visits will offer clear, practical advice to help them to take steps to protect their herds and, if needed, manage the impacts of a bTB breakdown on their unit.
During the next three years the service, delivered by veterinary specialists Origin Group, will offer 2,400 visits to farms in the South West and West Midlands from Cornwall to Derbyshire.
Protect the UK's herds
Welcoming the launch of the new service, Chief Veterinary Officer Nigel Gibbens said: “Bovine TB is one of the greatest animal health threats in the UK and has a devastating impact on our producers.
“Alongside the existing TB Hub, the bTB Advisory Service will help to arm our producers with the knowledge they need to help to prevent this devastating disease from spreading. It is a vital weapon in our fight to protect the UK’s herds and our producers’ futures.”
The biosecurity five-point plan can help producers to protect their herds, as well as those on neighbouring units:
- Restrict contact between badgers and cattle
- Manage cattle feed and water
- Stop infected cattle entering the herd
- Reduce risk from neighbouring herds
- Minimise infection from cattle manure