This year’s TB conference was held on 29th November 2023 in Worcester, hosted by The TB Advisory Service (TBAS). It was an opportunity to bring together all those involved in TB control and it was great to see so many people attend: veterinary practices, farmers and policy makers, all contributing to the 260 tickets sold.

The day consisted of a series of talks hosted by various speakers and closed with an interesting discussion session.
Ele Brown, Head of Defra Bovine TB Programme opened with promising figures, highlighting that bovine TB (bTB) is at the lowest levels in England for 15 years. In order to sustain this downward trend Ele stressed the importance of working together before seeing the rollout of new tools to help combat the disease, including more sensitive tests and the roll out of a cattle vaccine.

Speakers focussed on ‘controlling the controllables’ and praised farmers leading the way with this concept. bTB is mainly a respiratory disease, caught by inhaling M. bovis bacteria. Cattle to cattle transmission is the primary route in which spread occurs. Direct transmission usually happens when animals are in close contact with each other. Bacteria are released into the air through coughing and sneezing and can spread the disease to uninfected animals. Indirect transmission is also possible through contact with urine, faeces, pus from abscesses, etc. Food and water contaminated with the bacterium can also be a source of infection.

Good biosecurity practices can help reduce or prevent the introduction of disease onto a farm from outside sources. Adhering to strict buying in policies and avoiding contact with neighbouring cattle, as well as considering badger activity on farm are all important.

The TB Advisory Service is a DEFRA funded project that offers FREE, bespoke, practical and cost-effective advice to all eligible farmers in England to help reduce the risks associated with TB. Keepers in England of a TB susceptible species with a CPH number are eligible. Please speak to your vet if you would like more information about the service.

Sarah Tomlinson, TB Advisory Service Technical Director and Kingshay Veterinary Consultant said ‘We need to start seeing everyone as a vital part of the eradication strategy.

The top five recommendations to be completed on farm are:

  1. Use the ibTB website to assess pre-purchase risk of incoming stock
  2. Install wildlife cameras
  3. Use badger-proofed mineral licks
  4. Use the ibTB website to assess risk from local area
  5. Isolate setts from stock

(Source: TB Advisory Service (TBAS))

We need legislation to protect our disease status and to allow us to trade, equally we need some control, choice and trust to be given to vets and farmers to allow them to manage TB in-line with their business objectives’.

he Farming Community Network shared research they’ve been doing exploring the emotional, financial and physical impacts of bTB and the long-term implications on all involved; farm, farmer, family and business. This was a poignant and important reminder about the people affected by the battle, as we focus on working towards a bTB-free future.

Programme for the day:

  • TB Eradication Strategy 10 years in. What have we achieved?
  • Working collaboratively to achieve a TB free future
  • Co-design of future policies including cattle vaccination
  • TB Control at a local level
  • A collaborative approach to managing a TB breakdown
  • Why should we care for a TB free future?
  • Panel discussion Q & A