The number of TB outbreaks in Irish cattle herds has hit a 10-year high.

Herd incidence, the number of herds that experience a new TB breakdown in a 12-month period, increased to 4.89% last year from 3.64% in 2014.

TB reactor numbers also continue to increase, with reactor numbers up 5,500 head to reach almost 29,000 in the last year. This was a 24% jump between 2022 and 2023.

The cost of the TB programme is now more expensive than ever. The total cost of the programme was €74.2m in 2023, an increase of almost 30% on the previous year.

Irish Farmers Journal analysis shows that there is more funding being pumped into TB eradication than into the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme or the Organic Farming Scheme.

IFA animal health chair TJ Maher called for further Department of Agriculture funding for the wildlife programme to vaccinate and remove badgers, highlighting the burden of both financial loss and stress on farmers whose herds go down with TB.