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Cumbrian farmers told it is unknown how bovine TB has spread

Farmers are calling for more action Credit: PA

Government experts have told Cumbrian farmers that they don't yet know how bovine TB has spread in 16 out of 20 cases.

At a meeting last night they said there's more testing to be done, but at the moment they don't believe badgers are responsible for the initial infection.

Experts also said they needed more information before they decide if badgers are to be culled, as only been three badgers have tested positive, from around 12 tested. They added that culling can cause badgers to move, making the spread of the disease worse. For these reasons badgers will not be culled at the moment.

Instead farmers are encouraged to practice good biosecurity, for instance using fences to keep their cattle away from badger areas, and seal buildings with food as well as adhering to cattle movement restrictions.

“A number of bTB breakdowns in cattle herds have been identified in east Cumbria. APHA has carried out a thorough investigation, which found evidence the disease is present in badgers in the area. We are working closely with farmers and others affected to assess the extent of disease in the badger population. Additional cattle controls are in place and further action will depend on the results of our surveillance. Farmers in the area should continue to practice good biosecurity to minimise the risk of disease spreading to their farms.”

– An Animal and Plant Health Agency spokesperson

But farmers are calling for more action. They want to see more active testing on badgers so the experts and farmers can be better informed of what's going on and how to stop it.

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'Cumbria is a low risk area for bovine TB'

A spokesman for the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) - the department of DEFRA that deals with cases linked to bovine TB - told ITV Border what is being done surrounding the current outbreak.

“Cumbria is a low risk area for bovine TB. Each year there are a small number of bovine TB incidents in the county, typically due to infection being inadvertently carried in cattle bought from herds in a high risk area. AHVLA has also found no evidence of TB infection in local wildlife.

“Bovine TB can have a devastating effect on farm businesses, which is why there are strict measures to control it. In low risk areas such as Cumbria, herds within a three kilometre radius of a TB incident are placed on more regular testing to reduce the risk of infection.”

– AHVLA spokesman

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Bovine TB confirmed in the Brampton area

An outbreak of bovine TB has been confirmed in the Brampton area of north Cumbria.

There are restrictions in place when it comes to moving affected cattle and farms within a three kilometre radius will also be tested.

The NFU has advised farmers to be careful when bringing animals into the county by looking at their sourcing policy and where animals are coming from.

Cumbria is a low risk area on the border of Scotland - which has a TB free status.

Bovine TB outbreak confirmed in north Cumbria

An outbreak of bovine TB has been confirmed on a farm in north Cumbria.

Restrictions have been placed on moving affected cattle. Animals on other farms within a three kilometre radius will also be tested for the disease. Farmers in the county are being urged to take extra precautions.

Ian Mandle from the National Farmers' Union:

Full Report: New Bovine TB testing rules

Farmers in Cumbria are being warned to wake up to the dangers of bovine TB.

Outbreaks of the disease - which can mean cattle having to be slaughtered - have been found in Cheshire and Lancashire.

In January new rules to stop the spread of the disease will come into effect.

Both the National Farmers Union and the Government Vetinary Laboratories have been advising farmers about possible infection.

You can see the full report from Andy Burn below.

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