Pioneering farm loses its bTB-free status

25 Jul 2020

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By Josh Loeb

Gatcombe Farm in Devon, noted for being a successful test bed for pioneering approaches to controlling bovine TB (bTB), has lost its officially TB free (OTF) status.

Fourteen of the farm’s dairy cows recently failed the routine annual tuberculin skin test and at postmortem examination three were subsequently found to have lesions, confirming infection.

Now cattle vet Dick Sibley, who provides vet services to the farm, is calling for more innovative approaches to manage the disease.

Gatcombe’s 300-strong dairy herd had been chronically infected with bTB for around seven years when farmer Robert Reid asked Sibley to help him tackle the problem in 2014.

Sibley introduced a suite of new measures, including strict biosecurity and an innovative ‘enhanced testing’ regime using the Actiphage and Idexx ELISA blood tests and PCR testing of faecal samples. Also no badger culling was permitted.

Under this approach, the farm became...