Huw Irranca-Davies, the Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change and Rural Affairs, has made further changes to TB testing in Wales after meeting with and listening to farmers across Wales.

The changes are in response to industry feedback and have been made to simplify procedures without compromising the risk of disease spread.

The Cabinet Secretary made the announcement ahead of speaking as the guest of honour for the first time at the British Veterinary Association Welsh dinner last week.

The Cabinet Secretary said the changes to the specific types of TB test involved have also taken into account the resources required by farmers and vets and cost-effectiveness.

Cabinet Secretary Huw Irranca-Davies said: “Since my appointment in March, I have made a point of meeting farmers, vets and others across the industry to listen to their concerns around TB and the burden and anxieties these can cause.

“I’m pleased to be able to announce today that further changes - which have been made in response to industry feedback - are now in place.

“Recognising the impact on farmers, their families and their businesses is at the forefront of my mind.

“Last month I accepted all the Technical Advisory Group’s advice regarding the on-farm slaughter of TB reactors.

“We have worked alongside APHA and already implemented changes to the management of pregnant cattle.

“Our programme for eradicating Bovine TB is centred around partnership working with our farmers and vets, this is crucial to reaching our shared goal of a TB-free Wales.”

The changes to four specific aspects of TB testing in Wales are:

  1. The routine testing of calves under 42 days in a TB incident will no longer be carried out, unless the TB risk from these animals is considered high.
  2. Routine surveillance testing in Approved Finishing Units (AFUs), or Licensed Finishing Units (LFUs) is ceasing, unless the risk is considered high.
  3. Default Skin testing of a cattle herd, following slaughterhouse suspicion alone, will cease to be a requirement.
  4. Tracing tests will continue to reduce the risk of TB spread through movements of cattle from TB breakdown herds. However, data analysis of trace tests, currently supports a move away from trace testing of all cattle moved in low risk situations. 

Responding to the Welsh Government Press Release on Bovine TB, James Evans MS, Shadow Rural Affairs Minister, said:“Whilst it is welcome that the Labour Government are finally listening to feedback from the farming community more needs to be done to eradicate this horrific disease.

 “Behind every TB outbreak is a farmer and a family, the human impact and cost cannot be ignored.

 “The Labour Government must do more, follow the science and utilise all the tools available in the toolbox to eradicate this horrific disease and bring much needed peace of mind to the farming community.”