Recent news about Bovine Tuberculosis (TB) in Northern Ireland

This page provides information and links to recent news articles, press releases and research projects in relation to Bovine TB in Northern Ireland.

TB annual reports

Ministerial visits, press releases and statements

Minister O'Neill visits the Test and Vaccinate or Remove (TVR) project underway in Banbridge

The Test and Vaccinate or Remove (TVR) project started in the Banbridge area on 27 May 2014 after Executive and Ministerial approval was obtained. Letters to landowners and tenants have already issued to obtain their permission to access their land. On 2 September 2014 Minister O’Neill visited the TVR study area in Banbridge. A press release giving details of her visit and a page giving further information about the TVR approach can be found at the links below.

Recruitment of Members for the TB Strategic Partnership Group

DARD recently sought applications for Members for the TBSPG. It is anticipated that 4 Independent Members will be appointed. The closing date for applications was noon, Friday 29 August 2014.

Appointment of Chair to the TB Strategic Partnership Group

Mr Sean Hogan was appointed to the position of Chair of the TB Strategic Partnership Group (TBSPG) for a term of three years with effect from 10 July 2014. Further information about the TBSPG can be found at the link below. Applications will soon be sought for Independent Members of the TBSPG. Further information about these posts will be announced in due course.

Applications invited for Alternative Control Herds (ACHs)

On 29 November 2013, Agriculture Minister Michelle O’Neill announced that farmers who wish to establish a high biosecure Alternative Control Herd (ACH) can now apply. Further information about ACHs, the conditions of operation and further information about the application process is now available at the link below, or alternatively from DARD Direct Offices.

New partnership to work to eradicate TB

On 17 September 2013, Minister O’Neill announced to the NI Assembly Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD) Committee that she intends to establish a Government/industry strategic partnership to develop a long term strategy to eradicate TB from the cattle population in the north.

The Official Report of Minister O’Neill’s appearance at the ARD Committee on 17 September 2013 and a related press release can be viewed at the links below.

Cross-compliance rules to be tightened for overdue TB tests from 1 January 2014

From 1 January 2014, cross-compliance rules will be tightened proportionately to encourage timely TB herd testing.  A financial penalty will be applied to any herd keepers in the 1% selected for cross-compliance inspection with TB herd tests more than one month overdue.  The position will be reviewed again in mid-2014 to consider whether any further tightening is appropriate and/or whether it should be applied to all herd keepers rather than the 1% selected for inspection.  Further information about cross-compliance can be viewed at the link below:

ARD Committee's Review into Bovine Tuberculosis

The Agriculture and Rural Development Committee have undertaken a review into Bovine Tuberculosis, "to explore all measures, including broad consideration of likely cost / benefit, that could be taken in Northern Ireland towards the reduction and eradication of Bovine Tuberculosis based on international and local experiences."  Further information about this Bovine TB Review can be found on the Northern Ireland Assembly website at the links below:

Research projects

TVR Badger Sett Survey Report published

On 29 January 2013, Minister O’Neill announced that she had commissioned the Agri-food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) to commence a preliminary badger sett survey in a 100km2 area between Banbridge and Rathfriland. A further 100km2 survey area was announced, by Minister O’Neill, later in 2013 covering land between Castlewellan, Slieve Croob, Seaforde and Dundrum. With surveying now completed AFBI staff have collated and analysed all data gathered from the survey to produce a report of their findings. A copy of the final report and further information about the TVR approach can be found at the link below:

TB Heat Maps published

DARD's Epidemiology Unit, with input from NIVA and AVSPNI, has developed maps which show the density of herds per km2 with one or more Bovine TB reactors (TB heat maps). These TB heat maps provide veterinary practitioners and farmers with useful information about the TB situation in their area. Maps for 2017 have been distributed to veterinary practices and are also available below.

Density of herds with TB reactors 2017

Badger-Cattle Proximity Project Report published

DARD commissioned AFBI to conduct an integrated research project on badgers and cattle in Northern Ireland to provide data on the ecology of badgers; quantify the level of direct interactions between badgers and cattle at pasture; and determine the frequency of badger visits to farmyards and buildings. The final project report has now been published and is available at the link below:

TB Slurry Literature Review published

DARD commissioned AFBI to complete a comprehensive review of the published work or work nearing completion on the role of slurry in spreading TB and whether it should be treated or disinfected prior to spreading. This literature review has now been published and is available at the link below.

TB Biosecurity Study report published

On 20 November 2013, Minister Michelle O’Neill MLA announced the publication of the TB Biosecurity Study report. The TB Biosecurity Study report was commissioned in order to compare farm characteristics in herds that recently had a TB breakdown and those that had no recent history of a breakdown in a TB high incidence area in Co. Down. Other objectives of the Study were to assess farmers’ attitudes to bovine TB and bovine TB control, and to provide descriptive information on biosecurity practices with regard to TB. A copy of the final report and further information about the TB Biosecurity Study can be found at the links below:

AFBI commissioned to carry out TB research and studies

Additional funding has been allocated in our budget to conduct TB and wildlife research and studies. This programme of TB and wildlife research and studies will help improve the detection and control of TB and guide our eradication strategy in the future. We have recently commissioned the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) to carry out:

  • an evaluation of the Gamma Interferon (IFN-g) test
  • an analysis of molecular strain typing data
  • a study into endemic diseases
  • a study into serological tests

You can read more about these studies at the link below, as well as other research that is ongoing, research that has already been completed and research that has been proposed:


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