The British government has set out new plans to eradicate bovine TB, including field trials of a cattle vaccine created by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) that has been described by the British government as a “global breakthrough”.
The government also plans to vaccinate more badgers against the disease and include improved testing to intercept TB earlier.
The UK government will now accelerate the work of distributing the vaccine within the next five years.
The plan also includes phasing out intensive badger culling, even though analysis on two areas examined showed significant reductions in the spread of the disease to cattle.
The aim is to have more sensitive testing which will intercept the disease earlier and remove it from cattle herds quicker.
TB is a slow-moving and insidious disease leading to the slaughter of over 30,000 cattle every year
Environment secretary George Eustice said: “Bovine TB is a slow-moving and insidious disease leading to the slaughter of over 30,000 cattle every year and considerable trauma for farmers as they suffer the loss of highly prized animals and valued herds.
"The badger cull has led to a significant reduction in the disease as demonstrated by recent academic research and past studies. But no one wants to continue the cull of this protected species indefinitely.”
The government intends to start deploying badger vaccination in areas where the four-year cull cycle has ended. After the infection in the badger population is dealt with by culling followed by badger vaccination, it will allow other measures such as cattle vaccination to be more effective.
Time to deliver on TB eradication plan
TB group wants targeted badger cull
NI badger study results to be published