Some 75% of cattle which had an inconclusive TB test result and were subsequently blood-tested have tested positive for TB, Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) deputy president Lorcan McCabe has told the Irish Farmers Journal.
A new inconclusive policy began in April, which sees inconclusives blood-tested.
“Of the ones coming back, 75% of the inconclusives blood-tested are coming back positive for TB,” he said.
The Department of Agriculture has said that the success of the new inconclusive policy was highlighted at Wednesday’s TB Forum.
It said that many high-risk inconclusive cattle are “now being identified as infected much more quickly by blood sampling and, if positive, removal as reactors, thus protecting other cattle in their herds and reducing the risk to the farmer of having to deal with further TB spread”.
McCabe welcomed the testing of inconclusives and said it now needed to be built on.
“There has to be a mechanism that gets inconclusives out of the herd and doesn’t crucify farmers.
"Farmers also need to be compensated through the on-farm market valuation scheme for these animals. The Department needs to look at that,” he said.
The Cavan dairy farmer said that the evidence is now showing that inconclusives are high-risk.
At Wednesday’s TB Forum, farm organisations received updates on the three working groups established under the new TB strategy: the implementation working group, financial working group and the scientific working group.
McCabe said that from what the ICMSA understands from the scientific group, the science is showing that deer are not a major problem when it comes to TB throughout the country, but they are a problem in Wicklow.
“The density and sheer amount of them in Wicklow is a problem. They haven’t got a handle on it.
“As of yet, no one has come up with solutions to that problem,” he said.
The ICMSA deputy president added that with the current testing regime of inconclusives and pre-movement testing for certain herds, there should be no need for herd TB status to be displayed on mart boards.
Speaking from Brussels, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said: “Bovine TB places a huge stress on farmers and their families, so I welcome the ongoing work of the TB Forum in discussing ways in which we can further reduce TB levels and protect cattle and herdowners.
“The positive impact we are already seeing from the new inconclusive policy is an illustration of the benefits of working together in partnership to implement the new TB strategy,” he said.
The forum also discussed the need for a renewed focus on communicating about TB risk and ways for farmers to protect their cattle.