Tuberculosis (TB) policy in England, which includes extensive badger culling in high-risk areas, is having a positive impact on the number of cattle slaughtered due to an outbreak of the disease.

The latest data shows that the number of cattle slaughtered due to TB in the 12-months to the end of March 2023 totalled 20,228, which is the fewest cattle slaughtered over a 12-month period for 15 years.

Over the same period to March 2023, NI slaughtered 18,378 cattle as reactors at a TB test. While that total is slightly behind England, the English cattle herd is three times larger.

However, much of the TB in England is concentrated in the main cattle regions in the south and southwest of the country, and it is here where badger culling has generally taken place.

In this high-risk area, the number of cattle slaughtered due to a TB incident totalled 16,133 to March 2023, down 25% on the previous year.


Unlike England, the Welsh government continues to rule out badger culling, instead favouring a grant scheme that covers up to 50% of the costs of badger vaccination on a limited number of farms.

Authorities in Wales have also undertaken some work to test badgers, vaccinate those that are TB-free and cull those positive for the disease (similar to Test, Vaccinate or Remove – TVR project in NI). However, this is being gradually phased out, having had little impact on disease rates in cattle and coming at a high cost per vaccinated badger.

In the 12 months to March 2023, a total of 9,585 Welsh cattle were slaughtered due to TB, down 5% on the previous year. The current Welsh cattle herd is around 1.5m, slightly below that in NI.


The approach taken in Wales is often quoted as the best model for disease control by badger campaign groups, even though that is not necessarily backed up by the statistics. Caution should also be taken when comparing the situation in Wales with NI. While the Welsh do have some hotspot areas in the south and southwest, overall disease rates are much lower in both badgers and cattle, than in NI.


In Scotland, it has maintained officially TB-free status since 2009, mainly because it has a low density of both cattle (similar population as NI) and badgers. However, Scottish authorities still have to deal with some isolated outbreaks.

In the 12 months to March 2023, a total of 766 cattle were slaughtered due to TB, up 43% on the previous year. The increase was mainly related to breakdown herds in Ayrshire due to the movement of infected cattle.

Read more

DAERA consider TB compensation cuts

Those against badger cull need to see sense