Election special – Bovine TB

With a General Election looming on 7 May, we asked the political parties to set out their policies on eight key rural issues that affect the countryside in 2015. Here we ask - what are the best ways to tackle bovine TB in cattle?


Gloucestershire floods

What are the best ways to tackle bovine TB in cattle? 



Tackling bovine TB is vital for Britain’s food security and the health of our beef and dairy industries. We are taking action, which includes cattle movement controls, vaccinating badgers in some areas and culling badgers in areas where bovine TB is rife. This approach has worked in Australia, New Zealand and the Republic of Ireland.


The badger cull is unscientific, inhumane and likely to make the problem worse. Instead, strategies such as vaccination, more frequent testing, improved biosecurity and badger-proofing cattle yards and feed sheds are needed. We also need to tackle cattle-to- cattle transmission by controlling cattle movements and communal cattle housing.


The Government’s inhumane and ineffective badger cull has been a failure on every count. We will work with scientists, wildlife groups and farmers to develop an evidence-based strategy. This will focus on badger vaccination, compulsory post-movement testing of cattle, a comprehensive risk-based trading system, and more robust bio-security on farms.


Badger cull trials in Gloucestershire and Somerset will continue, alongside investment in a vaccine, but we would only support

further culls if they are shown to be effective, humane and safe. The TB Eradication Strategy will be fully implemented, to make England TB free within 25 years, while maintaining a viable cattle sector.


Plaid Cymru is committed to allowing the vaccination programme underway in Wales to run its course in order that we can learn lessons about the process and its effectiveness. This does not mean we rule out a limited cull in future, but we will be guided by the best available science.


Scotland was recognised as officially tuberculosis free in 2009 and we are committed to safeguarding this. A robust monitoring system for bovine TB in cattle is in place, which involves four-yearly routine herd testing. Herds defined as ‘low risk’ are exempt from the testing if they can comply with the required criteria.


To follow the advice of veterinary opinion and not the demands of pressure groups. The culling of badgers in Ireland allows this particular policy to be evaluated. It is showing promise so far. We believe that vaccinating badgers on the ‘edge’ zones using volunteer labour will help stop geographical spread of bTB. 

Read the responses to all eight key issues.