Union welcomes vaccine trials as step forward in bTB control

Bovine TB continues to be one of the most significant issues facing farmers in the UK (Photo: Nick Spurling/Flpa/imageBROKER)
Bovine TB continues to be one of the most significant issues facing farmers in the UK (Photo: Nick Spurling/Flpa/imageBROKER)

The Farmers’ Union of Wales has welcomed the news that bovine TB vaccine trials are due to begin shortly in England and Wales.

The trials form part of a longer-term strategy towards possible vaccine rollout by 2025.

They will be conducted over the next 4 years on behalf of the Welsh government, the Scottish government and Defra.

Bovine TB continues to be one of the most significant issues facing cattle keepers in Wales, with more than 12,000 cattle slaughtered in 2019 due to this disease.



Dr Hazel Wright, FUW senior policy officer said: “Losing TB-free status is devastating to farming families and the restrictions on a farm can be emotionally and financially destructive.”

The current Welsh bovine TB eradication programme target for TB freedom is 2041.



However, much of the current TB eradication programme is reactive and removes animals from the farm after they have contracted the disease.

Vaccination, in combination with a usable DIVA test, can act as a preventative measure and could play a vital role in disease eradication.

“The start of vaccine trials represents many years of research and development into bovine TB vaccines and diagnostic tests," Dr Wright said.

"We hope to be informed as the research continues and we will await the results of the trial with great interest."

She said cattle vaccination continued to be one of the tools in the box that had been unavailable to farmers.

However, she said vaccination was not a silver bullet and it remained just one method of bovine TB control.

"We continue to support an holistic approach to bovine TB control in Wales which is guided by science and not politics," Dr Wright said.