The Farmers' Union of Wales has put forward proposals to cut the number of cattle killed on-farm after TB breakdowns.

Speaking after the first meeting of the Bovine TB Technical Advisory Group (TAG), FUW Policy Officer Elin Jenkins said: “We welcome the opportunity to present alternative options for the group to consider that would reduce the number of cattle slaughtered on-farm following bovine TB-breakdowns and provide support in circumstances where on-farm slaughter is unavoidable.”

During the three-year period between 2020 and 2023, 2,337 cattle were slaughtered on-farm; 8 per cent of the total number of cattle culled due to bovine TB in Wales during that period.

The majority of these cases of on-farm slaughter were due to animals testing positive for TB whilst under medicated withdrawal periods, or when they were heavily pregnant or within the first week post-calving and were therefore deemed unfit for transport according to animal transport regulations.

“Some of the options we presented included providing greater flexibility around arranging routine testing to avoid block calving periods, and minimising the risk of on-farm slaughter cases due to medical withdrawal periods," said Mrs Jenkins.

“However, the need to discuss the subject of alleviating the horrors of on-farm slaughter looks to remedy the symptom rather than address the root cause of the issue which is the abysmal track record of a long standing ineffective TB eradication programme in Wales.

“As such, and whilst we welcome the fact that Wales now has a dedicated TAG to provide expert advice on bovine TB eradication, the importance of allowing this group to be politically independent and to identify and explore a fully holistic approach to eradicating this disease cannot be overstated.”

Professor Glyn Hewinson, Sêr Cymru Chair of the TB Centre of Excellence, leads the group of ten publicly appointed members consist of a wealth of knowledge covering social sciences, epidemiology and veterinary medicine.

However, questions have been raised concerning the absence of farmer representatives on the group.