New tools and advice to help farmers protect their herds from TB have been unveiled as part of a new campaign to help eradicate bovine TB, Farming Minister George Eustice announced today.
Defra, the Animal and Plant Health Agency, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, the National Farmers’ Union, the British Cattle Veterinary Association and Landex have come together to promote action and help famers and vets protect herds from bovine TB.
All advice on bovine TB from government, farming experts, leading vets and agricultural colleges is now available from one single website.
www.TBhub.co.uk is the ‘go-to’ place for British beef and dairy farmers to find practical advice on dealing with bovine TB on their farm, covering everything from biosecurity measures to understanding trading rules.
See also: Bovine TB biosecurity case study, Adam Quinney
The cross-industry campaign will also promote a new Bovine TB Biosecurity Five Point Plan to improve disease prevention on farm and in the cattle trade. Recommended actions include asking for a herd’s TB history before buying cattle and taking steps to minimise wildlife access to cattle, their feed and their housing.
From the end of November, posters featuring the set of industry-endorsed actions will be on display in Animal and Plant Health Agency offices, vet surgeries and cattle auction marts. Copies will be sent to farmers around the country, together with regular surveys to track progress.
Speaking at Hartpury College, Farming Minister George Eustice said: “We are making good progress in eradicating TB from England through our 25-year strategy - reducing the risk of disease entering a farm is a crucial element if we are to end the devastation it causes for farmers and rural communities.
“There are simple and practical ways for farmers to reduce risk to their herds and neighbouring businesses from bovine TB which are set out in this new action plan approved by vets and farming experts.
“I encourage all cattle farmers to visit the new TB hub and think about the actions they could take to make a difference to improving the security of their herd - with outbreaks often costing thousands of pounds, it makes sense to take action now.”
Minette Batters, NFU Deputy President, said: “Biosecurity has a role to play in the fight against bovine TB and is something the NFU takes very seriously. Many farmers already have good biosecurity measures in place on their farms to reduce the risk of bovine TB and other diseases affecting their animals and any practical and affordable action farmers can take that could reduce the risk of disease getting on to their farms is worth looking at. Not everything will suit every farm business but I would encourage farmers to take whatever steps they feel could help minimise the risk of bovine TB getting on to their farm.
“The NFU has played a key role in the development of the new TB Hub, which will provide farmers with a wide range of practical advice and information. Importantly, this includes trading and movement advice to minimise the impact of bovine TB on their farm business, alongside what they can do to reduce the risk of bovine TB getting into their herds. We would like to see this Hub backed up with bespoke, practical, on-farm advice for farmers through the creation of a national farm TB advisory service funded by money from the Rural Development Programme for England.
“Biosecurity is just one element in the fight against bovine TB. To stand any chance of controlling and eradicating this disease we need to tackle it on all fronts. That is why we need all aspects of the Government’s 25-year TB eradication strategy to be implemented in full as soon as possible.”
Neil Blake, President of the British Cattle Veterinary Association, said: “Bovine TB is a hugely challenging and emotive issue for farmers. As vets we are witness to the herd health, emotional and financial impacts on a daily basis.
“Biosecurity and risk based trading are important in the management of all infectious diseases whether that is BVD, Johne's disease or bovine TB. These new initiatives are an important part of the 25-year strategy to eradicate bovine TB,
“Combining wildlife controls with biosecurity and risk based trading will allow us to make significant inroads in the fight against bovine TB.”
Last year, over 3,000 farms were affected by new breakdowns of TB in England, with each breakdown costing an estimated £20,000 to the taxpayer and over £10,000 to farmers. An estimated 50% of breakdowns in low risk areas are caused by purchased animals.
The bovine TB biosecurity drive gets underway as over half of England is on track to become officially TB free within five years thanks to tighter cattle movement controls, badger vaccination and controlled culling in areas where the disease is rife.
Chris Moody OBE, Chief Executive of Landex, said: “Today, I have written to our 41 member agricultural colleges and universities in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to kick-start a biosecurity education drive across the country.
“Working together with Government and the farming industry, we can educate current and future generations of livestock keepers on the merits of biosecurity to help eradicate bovine TB from the UK.”