What are farmers doing to limit bovine TB?
Farmers are working hard to prevent potential disease transmission although it is very difficult for a farmer to prevent a wild animal from coming into contact with livestock out in a field.
The measures that farmers take include raising feed and water troughs off the ground, ensuring doors to feed sheds fit well, and are kept shut at night, storing feed in covered bins and fencing off badger setts and latrines. They also do all they can to make their buildings 'badger proof' by ensuring there are no gaps in, or under, doors or walls that badgers could get through.
The only way of totally preventing infection would be to house cattle day and night, for 12 months of the year in secure premises and to sterilise all feed brought in.
The NFU, together with Defra, the Welsh Assembly Government and Food Environment and Research Agency (FERA), developed a Bovine TB and Badgers - Improving Farm Biosecurity DVD which is used to promote best practice.
In November 2015 a cross-industry biosecurity campaign designed to help farmers minimise the risk of their herds getting bovine TB was launched.
All advice on bovine TB from government, farming experts, leading vets and agricultural colleges was made available on one single website - www.tbhub.co.uk.
The campaign also features a Biosecurity Five Point Plan to improve disease prevention on farm and in the cattle trade.
In April 2016, further cattle measures were introduced, including compulsory post-movement testing of cattle moving into the low risk area of England from the rest of England and Wales, to help reduce the risk of disease spread.
On April 1 2017, further new measures were introduced as part of the government's TB eradication strategy. These measures included wider use of interferon-gamma blood testing in the High Risk Area; using 'severe interpretation' for skin tests on traced cattle; harmonising the scheduling of short interval tests in TB breakdown herds; and more effective control of the movement of cattle from one TB breakdown herd to another.
Farmers also have access to independent advice from various events run by veterinary groups.