Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs
CHeCS’ principal objectives are to:
Today I am launching the Cattle Health Certification Standards (CHeCS) health scheme for bovine TB jointly with England. CHeCS is the self-regulatory body for cattle health schemes in the UK and Ireland. It is a non-trading organisation established by the cattle industry for the control and eradication of specific diseases. Along with Defra we have been in discussion with CHeCS on the development of an industry recognised TB health scheme which will indicate the TB status of participating herds and should help cattle buyers make more informed purchasing decisions as well as support farmers who are systematically trying to reduce their exposure to the disease.
- promote improvements in cattle health and welfare
- provide standards and certification for cattle health schemes.
CHeCS in the UK applies a set of standards to all accredited cattle health schemes ensuring equivalence between each. The health schemes currently provide programmes for the monitoring, control and eradication of five diseases:
- Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD)
- Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR)
- Johne’s disease
I am pleased to announce a scheme for bovine TB is now also available. Implemented with the support of the herd private vet, the scheme will provide a status based on added biosecurity measures and the number of years since the last herd breakdown. The status will run from zero (a herd breakdown within the past year) to 10 (ten years or more since the last breakdown).
Participating herds will be able to improve their score year-on-year and use this status when selling homebred cattle. The scheme will particularly benefit farmers within the high TB incidence areas who may have not recently had or ever had the disease and who would like their low-risk status to be recognised. Cattle keepers in the low TB area will also be able to ‘accredit’ their low-risk status.
All of the schemes provide certification when a herd meets the agreed national CHeCS cattle health standards. These certifications are then used by the farmer of the accredited herd when selling cattle as proof the required standard has been met. Bought-in cattle are a potential source of new infection and using this health information farmers are able to reduce the risk of disease being introduced into their herd by sourcing animals from herds which are accredited free of or low risk for these infectious diseases.
A key part of our TB eradication programme is to develop and promote improved biosecurity and husbandry practices and the scheme requires participating herds to maintain a high level of biosecurity which will reduce the risk of the herd contracting the disease. By focusing on individual herds the scheme complements our proposed regional approach, for example those herds in the high TB areas which have not recently had TB will be able to demonstrate they are a lower risk. This industry-led initiative aimed at reducing TB is to be welcomed and fits in with our principles of working in partnership and promoting the benefits of disease prevention through making informed purchasing decisions. All farmers interested in participating in the CHeCS health scheme for bovine TB should contact their vet for more information.