A Welsh farmer is living in fear of bovine TB

13 December 2017

A dairy farmer from the Vale of Glamorgan says that bovine TB is a constant worry.

Abi Reader from Goldsland Farm in Wenvoe manages a herd of one hundred and eighty cows. With more neighboring farms in the county being affected by bovine TB, Abi’s livestock faces a growing threat to the disease.

In October, the Welsh Government introduced a new ‘regionalised approach’ to tackling bovine TB. Areas of low, intermediate and high TB areas were established across Wales based on bovine TB incidence levels. The enhanced programme aims to mitigate the spread of disease in low TB areas and to reduce the disease in intermediate and high TB zones.

Despite the new measures that have been put in place, TB is still a growing concern for Abi and many other dairy and beef farmers across Wales.

She says: “I’m worried about the emotional stress that it’s going to have on myself and my staff. I’m worried about the financial implications that it’s going to have in terms of fulfilling my milk contract and making sure that I can provide what I say I’m going to provide. It’s a really worrying time.The cows feel like sitting ducks and I just hope it never comes.”

Wales’ revised TB programme looks to address infection in both cattle and wildlife.

Bovine TB is thought to spread directly between badgers and cattle via close contact. Cattle grazing where infected badgers have been present are exposed to a risk of infection.

If infected badgers are found on a farm in a high risk area in Wales, culling is now permitted. But unlike in England, Wales will continue to rule out large scale badger culling.

But the President for National Farmers Union Wales, Stephen James, says although this is a step in the right direction, the measures don’t go far enough, and that the Welsh Government need to do more to address the problem in wildlife.

Mr James says he can see why farmers in Wales are frustrated. He says there is too much focus on farmers to take responsibility in tackling the disease. “Farmers have to do all the rules and abide by regulations and yet badgers that may or may not be infected wonder freely across the farm”.

The Welsh Government spent £26,413,000 on addressing the problem of bovine TB between 2015 – 2016, which included funding from the European Union.

Controlling and eradicating Bovine TB is a complex and expensive issue and only time will tell if this new approach will prove to be effective.

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