A programme of vaccination to eradicate bovine TB in Wales appears to be working, the country’s farming minister has suggested, after the number of slaughtered cattle fell by a third.
Speaking as figures showed new herd incidents in the country – which has shunned the badger cull policy trialled in England – have fallen by a quarter, Alun Davies said Wales had reached its first goal of halting the spread of the disease.
Statistics from the Welsh Government show that, in the 12 months to the end of November 2013, there were 880 new herd incidents in Wales, down 23 per cent from 1,145 in the previous 12 months. The drop follows an increase of 15 per cent from 2011 to 2012.
For the most recent period, 6,275 cattle were slaughtered because of TB, down from 9,364. This is a fall of 33 per cent, following a rise of 18 per cent in 2011-2012.
Wales is nearing the end of its second year of vaccinating badgers, with 1,424 animals vaccinated in the first year of its trial in west Wales. A five-year trial is being carried out in England by the Dorset Wildlife Trust.
However, Mr Davies cautioned: “We know there is no quick fix to eradicating the disease from Wales. It will take many years and requires the whole industry to work together. I am delighted that overall the figures have come down however we cannot be certain that this is a long term trend and there may still be more fluctuation in the figures.”