Cattle slaughtered due to bTB in England at 15-year low

19 September 2023

NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw stood with his arms folded against a metal wall

Defra's latest figures on bovine TB show that the number of cattle slaughtered during a period of a year has fallen below 20,000 for the first time since 2008.

Cattle slaughtered due to bovine TB in England in the year to June 2023 fell 21% on the same period in 2022 to 19,216 – the first time that the figure has dipped below 20,000 in a single 12-month period since 2008.

Herd incidence – a measure used by Defra to quantify the risk of a breakdown – fell to its lowest mark in England since 2007, with the measure in the High-Risk Area at its lowest since 2006.

NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw said the results demonstrated the importance of the full range of tools under the government’s TB eradication strategy.

Strategy is working

He said the figures “clearly show that the commitment from thousands of farmers across the country to control the wildlife reservoir is working”.

Tom added: “Bovine TB continues to have a huge impact on thousands of farming families and the emotional, mental and financial strain of this devastating disease is enormous.

“The current government strategy, which gives farmers access to multiple measures to tackle the disease, has been successful in reducing its incidence.

The commitment from thousands of farmers across the country to control the wildlife reservoir is working.

NFU Deputy President, Tom Bradshaw

“It has given farmers, their families and their businesses much-needed relief.

“As bTB policy evolves, it is vital that this effective strategy maintains wildlife control measures where it is necessary to ensure pressure to eradicate BTB is maintained.”

The issuing of licences for new badger culls ended last year under the latest phase of the government strategy, with the focus shifting towards vaccination. Supplementary wildlife controls in existing cull areas are due to finish in 2025. However, Defra has reserved the right to conduct targeted culls in hotspots beyond then.

Tom added: “We will continue to work with government to ensure a successful strategy to eradicate bTB continues to be based on sound science and evidence.” 

To read Defra's results in full, visit: GOV.UK | Quarterly TB in cattle in Great Britain statistics notice: June 2023.


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