Our policies

Bovine tuberculosis

What's the issue?

Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is a devastating chronic disease of cattle and a major challenge facing large parts of the UK cattle farming industry today. Beyond cattle, the disease can also affect badgers, deer, camelids, goats, pigs, dogs, and cats.

bTB can also pass from animals to humans. However, the risk of infection is very low for the vast majority of the population.

bTB is one of the UK's most difficult animal health issues, with control measures costing the livestock industry and government millions of pounds a year. 

There is a range of different controls in place across EnglandWales, and Northern Ireland, which take into account local circumstances and the prevalence of the disease. 

Scotland achieved Officially Tuberculosis Free Status (OTF) in September 2009. OTF is recognition of the relatively low and stable incidence of bTB found in Scottish herds. Controls in Scotland are focused on maintaining this status.

What's our view?

We support a holistic approach to tackling bTB that makes use of all the available tools in the toolbox. We know human behaviour plays a role in the spread of infection. Therefore, behavioural science is front and centre of our approach to tackling this devastating disease.

At the heart of our recommendations is empowering vets and farmers, and supporting their pivotal relationship. Key recommendations include:

  • Rewarding farmers for good biosecurity practices through a framework for earned recognition
  • Empowering private vets to advise their clients with timely, localised data
  • Better data-sharing and communication between government vets and private vets
  • Support for knowledge-based livestock trading
  • Long-term funding for bTB advisory services
  • Directing research funding to the areas which would have the greatest impact

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