FFA request meeting with new Chief Vet Brian Dooher on bTB

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Farmers For Action say they have requested a meeting with new Chief Vet Brian Dooher on bTB as infection among cattle and wildlife reaches an all time high.

Meanwhile representatives from Farmers For Action took the opportunity on Thursday 18th April night to attend an open seminar by bTB expert and vet Dick Sibley organised by the Northern Ireland Pedigree Cattle Trust.

Sean McAuley, FFA, stated that after hearing Mr Sibley’s story some years back it was good to hear his updates, see his graphs and hear his latest findings in detail.

He continued: “There is no doubt this man has almost risked his reputation in the past to prove his point that each traditional and new TB test now available (though very few of them yet approved for use by UK Veterinary Departments) are virtually all needed in different ways to assess what exactly is going on in individual herds of cattle.

Dr Dick Sibley who addressed the Pedigree Cattle Trust’s bTB meeting in Armagh on 18th April.Dr Dick Sibley who addressed the Pedigree Cattle Trust’s bTB meeting in Armagh on 18th April.
Dr Dick Sibley who addressed the Pedigree Cattle Trust’s bTB meeting in Armagh on 18th April.

"This could be transmission of TB from mother to baby calf/calves through the cows milk, it could be transmission from badgers, it could be transmission from a number of super spreaders within the herd transmitting via faeces or breath to breath transmission.

“It should be noted that people are not at risk of catching TB due to milk being pasteurised, however, Mr Sibley’s findings should be a warning to dairy farmers using their own milk straight from the cows in their own home.”

The FFA statement continued: “Mr Sibley practises in Devon have close links with farmers across Cornwall, Devon and Dorset giving all sorts of examples from a new entrant farmer who bought a farm in the area and completely badger fenced it, then bought in a pedigree bull and some pedigree cows only for the bull to go down with TB, in short, he had bought in the infection.

"In New Zealand they deem that for cattle to be 100% TB free they have to come from a farm 10 years free of the disease with degrees of probability on a sliding scale if less than 10 years. Currently, this would be a pipe dream for the UK to have all its farms TB free for 10 years!”

Sean concluded: “Having had TB in recent years myself and every animal about the farm having to be slaughtered, it is not a good situation to be in and therefore have huge sympathy for family farmers caught up in this worsening situation.

"While Mr Sibley highlighted the deviousness of this disease in cattle and even its ability to cross species can never be underestimated! We now have a situation where badgers (now in huge numbers across Northern Ireland) must be considered as one method of two way transmission of bTB. It is clear that new thinking is needed to wipe-out bTB in Northern Ireland. This will be the topic of discussion with the new Chief Vet – where the question must be asked ‘what are we going to do about a cure for bTB infected animals that are still well enough to handle it alongside more progress with vaccines on-site!”