MORE THAN 9,000 cattle were slaughtered because of TB in Wales in 2012 – a 15% rise on the previous year.

Figures released by Defra showed that 9,307 cows were culled in 2012, which NFU Cymru says ‘hammers home’ the message that TB is out of control in the countryside and one of the biggest threats to the dairy and beef industries.

Pembrokeshire farmer and NFU Cymru Deputy P r e s i d e n t Stephen James said: “Over the past five years we have lost over 48,000 cattle in their prime because of bovine TB, despite during this same period Welsh cattle farmers putting up with draconian controls that impact on every farm business decision they make. In this past 12 months alone the figure has jumped by over 15% and 2012 figures are over 22% higher than 2010.”

The number of cattle slaughtered because of TB last year is 890% higher than in 1998, when only 1,046 cattle were culled, which Mr James says proves that cattle measures alone will not stop the upward spiral of the disease.

“These figures show that a policy that fails to adequately tackle and remove the disease from the wildlife population will never get on top and ultimately eradicate this disease from our countryside, instead the disease continues to escalate,” he added.

“This has to be a wake up call to Welsh Government and highlights the urgent need to implement a science led policy of badger control in endemic areas of the country rather than the Welsh Government’s vaccination policy based on conjecture.”

The Welsh Government abandoned plans for a pilot cull of badgers in favour of a vaccination programme in an intensive action area in north Pembrokeshire. The initiative started last year and saw 1,424 badgers vaccinated at a cost of £943,000, with the overall cost of the five year project estimated to be about £4,725,000.