CHECS is rolling out a new UK-wide TB Entry Level Membership over the coming months, focusing on biosecurity ‘basics’ to help farmers reduce the risk of TB breakdowns in their herds.
Bovine TB has a devastating impact on farmers and their cattle. It is the UK’s most challenging animal health and welfare issue, costing farms around £18,600 per breakdown and in some cases more.
Keith Cutler MRCVS, chair of the CHECS technical committee, said: “Farmers often think that TB is uncontrollable, but biosecurity is a key tool in tackling it,” says. “It is far more than just having a boot dip on the yard; but it can be easily implemented and doesn’t have to be expensive.”
CHECS launched its TB Herd Accreditation in 2016 to help farmers protect their herds against the disease, but the tough requirements have limited take-up, Mr Cutler said. However, following Defra’s response to the Bovine TB Strategy (Godfray) Review in March 2020, CHECS and the British Cattle Veterinary Association (BVCA) developed the new TB Entry Level Membership.
Mr Cutler added: “This means cattle farmers can adopt a baseline standard of ‘no regrets’ biosecurity measures without some of the more challenging measures included in full TB Herd Accreditation.”
Sarah Tomlinson MRCVS, from the TB Advisory Service, who helped to develop the Entry Level approach said a key take-home message from the Godfray review was that there needs to be a step change in industry behaviour.
Ms Tomlinson said: “It was recognised that TB Herd Accreditation doesn’t suit all farms and businesses, so TB Entry Level Membership bridges this gap and makes an accessible scheme for all to get involved at their own level.
“The Government recognises the important role private vets can play in TB eradication and the need to increase engagement in TB biosecurity. The Entry Level scheme promotes all of these elements on farm.”