The UK is leading the charge in the fight against bovine TB

A new partnership, forged between the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL) and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), is set to take the dairy industry a step closer to eradicating Bovine TB (bTB).

Starting later this year, supported by £360,000 funding from Innovate UK, around 12,000 dairy cattle will be genotyped, informing the development of a national database of genetic evaluations and a new state-of-the-art genomic prediction tool.
This will enable farmers to identify natural resistance traits and make informed decisions about which cattle they choose to breed, depending on their resistance to Bovine TB.

The new project builds on recent AHDB research which identified significant genetic variations between resistant and non-resistant dairy cattle. The funding, leveraged through CIEL, allows for a far greater number of cattle to be included in the database, creating a rich new dataset for onward research.

Combatting Bovine TB is a national priority, manifested by the £100 million spent annually on disease surveillance, monitoring and non-genetic control. If accuracies of genomic predictions were improved, genetic improvement could contribute to a long term reduction of this figure by reducing both infected and infectious animals on farm.

Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, reiterated the importance of eradication when he announced a review of the 25 year Bovine TB Strategy four years after it was first published.

“The additional funding provided by Innovate UK will allow a far greater number of cattle to be included in the database, ensuring greater accuracy when the improved genomic prediction tool is put into practice” says Marco Winters, Head of Animal Genetics for AHDB Dairy.

This project has game-changing potential for the dairy industry and is a further demonstration of how the industry is actively using genetics, as part of wider industry initiatives, toward a sustainable livestock sector.

Marco Winters, Head of Animal Genetics, AHDB Dairy.