THE number of cattle in Pembrokeshire slaughtered because of bovine TB has been highlighted ahead of today's Pembrokeshire County Show.

Local NFU officials have pointed out that the situation in Pembrokeshire is particularly alarming with 3,387 cattle slaughtered in the county due to bovine TB in the 12 month period up to the end of April 2018.

This is a staggering increase of almost a quarter compared to the same 12 month period last year.

Official government statistics released last month revealed that the number of new herd incidents in Wales has increased by 10 per cent and that the number of herds under restrictions in Wales in the 12 months, up to the end of April 2018, has increased by over 16 per cent when comparing year-on-year. The figures also reveal a 3 per cent year-on-year increase in the total number of animals slaughtered in Wales due to Bovine TB.

Speaking at the show, local dairy farmer and Pembrokeshire NFU Cymru county chairman, Jeff Evans said: “I fully appreciate that when looking at a disease as complex as bovine TB, one should consider short term statistical changes in the context of long term trends. However this scale of loss is hugely damaging and unsustainable for the industry in Pembrokeshire.

“Far too many farming families in this area continue to struggle under the enormous emotional and financial strain caused by bovine TB. Cattle farmers here in Pembrokeshire, and throughout the rest of Wales, are continuing to play their part to help control and eradicate the disease by adhering to stringent cattle movement and testing controls. However these latest figures clearly illustrate that the measures currently in place to eradicate this disease are not working.”

Mr Evans expressed frustration with the Welsh Government's regionalised approach to tackling the disease in Wales introduced in October 2017.

In chronic breakdown herds, Welsh Government made a commitment that where there was evidence of infection in the local badger population, a range of options to reduce the risk of disease spread would be considered, including cage-trapping, testing and where necessary humanely killing infected badgers.

“It is a source of real frustration that since the introduction of these individual action plans for chronic breakdown herds, Welsh Government in 2017 only managed to issue licences on three farms across the whole of Wales, with only five badgers having been removed," said Mr Evans.

"This is in stark contrast to the 10,119 cattle that have been slaughtered in Wales due to bovine TB in the last 12 months. This is when we know, from the Badger Found Dead Survey, that in some parts of Wales one in five badgers are suffering from this disease.

"The continual testing and slaughter of infected cattle alone will not eradicate the disease in herds where re-infection occurs from badgers, this makes control very difficult and eradication impossible.”

The NFU has always supported using every option to tackle the problem.

Mr Evans concluded: “I cannot stress enough the importance of Welsh Government moving forward with a truly comprehensive approach to TB eradication, we cannot be here again in 12 months’ time talking about this scale of loss of productive cattle from the county.”