A nationwide cattle health programme evaluating risk and recognising good biosecurity could help vets and farmers “fight back” against bTB.

bTB testing
The measuring phase of bTB testing.

The voluntary Cattle Herd Certification Standards (CHeCS) bTB herd accreditation scheme will see vets and cattle owners work on a number of biosecurity measures already successfully implemented in five other cattle disease control programmes.

A herd’s score will improve each year it is free from a breakdown. Status scores range from zero (following all CHeCS measures, but had a breakdown in the past 12 months) to 10 (following CHeCS measures and 10 years or more since the last breakdown).

As well as reducing the risk of infection, the CHeCS stated the scheme could present informed buying opportunities. For example, it could benefit farmers selling cattle from regions with a high risk of disease or those wanting to minimise exposure from animals bought in.

Welcomed

George Eustice
Farming minister George Eustice has welcomed the CHeCS bTB herd accreditation scheme.

Farming minister George Eustice and Welsh Government cabinet secretary for environment and rural affairs, Lesley Griffiths, have welcomed the scheme.

Mr Eustice said: “Dealing with bTB costs us £100 million a year and causes devastation and distress for farmers and rural communities across the country. Last year 33,000 cattle were slaughtered because of the disease, and many farms are subject to movement restrictions that can affect their trade.”

Mrs Griffiths urged Welsh farmers to engage with the scheme to reduce the risk of introducing disease to their herd.

‘Leading the way’

BCVA president Andrew Cobner, the project’s technical lead since its inception, said: “It doesn’t matter where you are in the UK, the CHeCS module is designed to help farmers stay clear of the disease.

“We have a Government willing to embrace all the measures necessary and comprehensive plans in place across the UK. Part of this will involve increasing biosecurity and risk-based trading, and the CHeCS is leading the way.”

  • Read the full story in the 12 December issue of Veterinary Times.
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