Farm Ireland

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Pioneering study set to bolster TB battle

DARD calls on farmers' support for critical research

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

A groundbreaking study of TB in cattle is to be undertaken by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) in Northern Ireland.

Up to 350 farmers in Co Down will be invited to participate in the initiative which is due to kick off in the next few months.

Northern Ireland's Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew said the key aim of the study was to compare farm characteristics in herds that had recently suffered a TB breakdown and those with no recent history of problems with the disease.

"This TB Biosecurity Study is important and I encourage the support of those farmers who are selected to participate in this valuable research," Ms Gildernew said.

"Their help is vital if we are to get a better understanding of the factors that influence the transmission of bovine TB here. Indeed, the study can not proceed without the help.

"Consideration of selected cattle and wildlife factors will be key elements of the research. The study findings will be used to identify significant risk factors and should contribute to the development of best practice and biosecurity advice that can be rolled out to all herd keepers to help reduce the level of bovine TB here."

Farmers will have to provide information on their farm business as well as evidence of badger presence and activity both on their land and around their farm buildings.

A survey of on-farm buildings and boundaries will be carried out, as well as some badger sett survey work.

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However, Ms Gildernew stressed that no direct intervention with badgers is planned to take place during the study.

"This has been clearly explained to all industry stakeholders, including those representing environmental interests," she said.

The minister welcomed the support of the Ulster Farmers' Union, the NI Agricultural Producers' Association, the National Beef Association and the Association of Veterinary Surgeons Practising in NI in launching the initiative.

Irish Independent