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News from AgriWales - A blog about everything and anything that's happening

A new highly sensitive and specific blood test for bovine TB, Actiphage, has been accepted for exceptional private use in England.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) said the test could be used in cases where a farm has had an ongoing chronic bovine TB problem.

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A TB vaccination for cattle could be one step closer thanks to a new test which detects bacteria in blood or milk after just six hours.

Actiphage TB, which has been created by Suffolk-based start-up PBD Biotech, is a highly sensitive test which can pick up whether an animal is infected or has been vaccinated.

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The Welsh Government’s flagship bovine TB data document - TB Dashboard - has revealed disappointing progress towards the eradication of  bovine TB in Wales.

According to the data presented, the levels of bovine TB in Wales have remained fairly static overall, with variable results across the counties.  

Indeed, whilst the TB Dashboard document reports a general fall in TB herd incidence since 2012, the number of cattle slaughtered in the 12 months leading to January 2017 was 22 percent higher than in the previous 12 months.

Dr Hazel Wright, FUW Senior Policy Officer, said: “Although the data from TB Dashboard shows improvement in some areas, the number of cattle slaughtered remains on the rise.  According to Welsh bovine TB statistics, with the exception of 2008 and 2009, the number of cattle slaughtered in the 12 months to January 2017 was higher than in any other year since 1996.


A research breakthrough allowing the first direct, empirical, blood-based, cow-side test for diagnosing bovine TB could spare farmers and the agriculture industry from costly quarantines and the mass slaughter of animals.

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A new blood test to detect bTB, has been developed by a team at The University of Nottingham.

Researchers have used this new method to show cattle diagnosed with bovine tuberculosis (bTB) have detectable levels of the bacterium Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) in their blood, causing the disease.

This new blood test detects very low levels of mycobacteria in blood using a bacteriophage-based technique developed by The University of Nottingham.


Eblex has released a new Cow Beef Guide to help industry explore different classifications and qualities. 

The latest addition to Eblex’s series of knowledge transfer guides looks at the difference between dairy and suckler cows, and describes how cow beef is used in the supply chain. It explains how the meat is less tender than prime beef, and therefore more suitable for burgers, mince and slow cooking.

Eblex business development manager Dick van Leeuwen said: “Eblex has produced a series of knowledge transfer guides, which have been developed to add value to the beef and lamb industry by improving the training resources available to businesses in the supply, processing and independent butchery sectors. The ‘Cow Beef Guide’ goes back to basics and contains useful examples of carcase classification which can be referred to time and again.”

The organisation explained that the guide also covers carcase classification, conformation and fat levels for cow beef and includes images for ‘R’, ‘O’ and ‘P’ carcase classifications. 

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Livestock inspections are the bane of many farmers lives. Gemma Claxton asks John Burne, head of Compliance and Guidance at the Rural Payments Agency, what farmers should expect when their turn comes and how they can avoid penalties and loss of income

John Burne leads teams of inspectors across England which carried out more than 11,000 inspections in 2013. Cross compliance breaches were found on just over 800 of these. However, not all inspections carry a cross compliance check. Farmers Weekly put some questions to Mr Burne.

Why does the RPA carry out inspections?

Some are carried out for cross compliance, linked to the Single Payment Scheme, to check farmers are meeting EU regulations they need to for the scheme.

Livestock inspections are focused on identification and traceability to help reduce the likelihood and impact of disease outbreaks.

Farm inspections are necessary to protect the quality of the environment and the welfare of our livestock, as well as animal, plant and human health. 

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