Proposals for new bovine TB control measures: tackling transmission between cattle herds

Closed 10 Jan 2014

Opened 28 Nov 2013


Defra is inviting views from stakeholders on proposals for new control measures to further reduce the risk of bovine TB transmission between cattle herds. We would welcome views from any individual or organisation that would be affected by, or are otherwise interested in, these proposals.   

The proposed new control measures are based on sound disease control principles, seek to build on the changes implemented in 2012 and 2013 and, if adopted, will reinforce the accelerated bovine TB eradication programme that we are obliged by European Union law to maintain. 

The proposed changes are:

  • To abolish the pre-movement testing exemption for movements of cattle to and from common land by the end of April 2014, with the possibility of a waiver for movements from the common land back to the premises from which the cattle were turned out where the distance moved does not exceed a set distance limit.     
  • To phase out the practice of de-restricting parts of TB-restricted premises by the end of September 2014.  After that date all parts of a single holding would be either officially TB free or under TB restrictions. 
  • To publish the location information on all new TB breakdowns, in order to aid livestock keepers’ risk management decisions. 
  • To clarify that wild or un-testable cattle will be culled.

The consultation will be open for submissions from 28th November 2013 to the 10th January 2014. 

Why your views matter

Bovine TB is the most pressing animal health problem in the UK. The seriousness of the situation for our cattle farmers, their families and their communities cannot be overstated. It is a devastating disease which threatens our cattle industry and presents a risk to other livestock, as well as wildlife species (such as badgers), pets and humans. The Government remains determined to tackle bovine TB by all available means. Only if we use every tool at our disposal, including enhanced cattle controls, will we begin to check the progress of this devastating disease.

The Bovine TB Eradication Programme for England laid the foundation for the Coalition Government’s comprehensive and balanced approach to tackling bovine TB. Launching the Programme in 2011, Defra Ministers said:

We already have a robust set of measures in place to tackle transmission between cattle including compulsory testing, slaughter of infected animals and movement restrictions on infected herds. We are committed to maintaining these controls and strengthening them where it makes sense to do so, taking a risk-based approach.”

On 26 September 2013 Defra completed a consultation on a new comprehensive TB eradication strategy - the “Draft Strategy for Achieving ‘Officially Bovine Tuberculosis-Free’ Status for England”. The aim of the draft Strategy is to achieve Official bovine TB Free (OTF) Status for England within 25 years, whilst maintaining a sustainable livestock industry. The proposals in this consultation exercise flow from the draft Strategy, the Secretary of State’s foreword to which stated:

"The Strategy is comprehensive and risk-based, using all available tools to:

•   reduce the spread of bTB between cattle both within and between herds;

•   deploy market measures, regulation, incentives and deterrents to reduce the risk of disease spread due to cattle movements."

In line with the draft Strategy referred to above, in developing new cattle controls we aim to strike an appropriate balance between robust disease control aimed at achieving official bovine TB freed status for England while maintaining a sustainable livestock industry. 


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