The expert opinions of farmers and their vets are being sought on proposals to help eradicate bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in a new RSPCA consultation.

The RSPCA is offering farmers and vets the opportunity to have their say on the charity’s proposals for new management measures aimed at eradicating the disease.

The RSPCA’s report: “It’s not all black and white: Managing bTB: an evidence-based approach” suggests a number of new approaches to tackle the devastating disease, providing details of the thinking and science behind the animal charity’s consultation.

Adam Grogan, the RSPCA’s head of wildlife said: “Current bTB eradication measures aren’t working. The proposals in our consultation are supported by the evidence set out in our new report, providing fresh evidence-based solutions to the problem of bTB.

"We are consulting because we want to give farmers and vets the chance to have their say on our proposals which include approaches designed to effectively tackle this disease.

“We’d welcome farmers’ and vets’ feedback on our proposals”.

The RSPCA believes that the current badger culling programme has no credible scientific basis. Data indicates that current approaches are failing to bring this devastating and widespread disease under control, let alone eradicate it and the animal charity feels that a completely new approach that is evidence-based, sustainable and humane is urgently needed.

Emily Coughlan, vet and RSPCA ruminant expert said: “Bovine tuberculosis and the measures that are currently being used to tackle it are having serious emotional and financial impacts on farmers, their families and their communities as well as causing suffering and death to huge numbers of cattle and badgers.

“The consultation is the result of new thinking based on robust science and conversations with a number of farmers and vets working at the frontline of bTB control. However we want many more farmers to have their say. Our proposals to address bTB puts every farmer at the centre of their own tailored management programme, whereas up until now, the only option being offered to farming communities is to kill badgers.”

The RSPCA’s new proposals include:

• The formation of bTB control co-operatives

• Strengthening biosecurity, biocontainment and cow resilience

• Funding of control measures

• Strengthening and supporting the role of vets

• Improving the approach to and accuracy of bTB testing

• Ensuring evidence-based communication and advice

• Moving to badger vaccination

“Everyone wants the same outcome ultimately – the eradication of bTB in farmed and wild animals. As the community that bears the brunt of bTB, we’d urge farmers to have their say in our consultation and help bring about an end to this terrible disease,” Emily added.

The RSPCA finds the announcement of a further 11 new cull licences, to add to the 42 cull zones already in operation, extremely frustrating, given that it says the data – including recent reported statistics – consistently show this policy does not work.

The RSPCA’s consultation runs until November 1.