New figures highlight the ongoing challenge of TB
The spread of bovine TB led to the slaughter of 28,284 cattle in England in 2012, a 7% increase compared to 2011 when 26,480 cattle were slaughtered.
New statistics published by Defra highlight the growing impact of the disease on the UK dairy and beef industry and emphasise the need to take urgent action to reduce the spread of TB.
Farming Minister David Heath said: "Bovine TB continues to spread at an unacceptable rate, leading to the slaughter of thousands of cattle and ongoing misery for our dairy farmers.
"What was once confined to a small area of the south west has the potential to become a national crisis and if left unchecked could cost the taxpayer £1 billion over the next ten years. We cannot afford to sit back and let this happen, which is why we are doing everything we can to get on top of this dreadful disease."
While the number of new TB incidents in herds was 3,941 - an increase of 5% from 2011 (3763 incidents)
The latest statistics published by Defra also reveal that the number of farms tested has increased by nearly 18% as new measures have been put in place in an attempt to get ahead of the spread of bovine TB in England and Wales.
The number of TB tests carried out in 2012 in England was 5,849,498, up from 5,493,311 in 2011. This reflects the increased testing being undertaken to monitor the spread of the disease.
Commenting, Carl Padgett, Past President of the British Veterinary Association, said: "These statistics make for sober reading as we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of cattle slaughtered in the last year.
"The figures remind us that urgent action is required to help us get on top of this disease. We need to ensure compliance amongst farmers with the tougher cattle control measures, a strong push from the Government on cattle and badger vaccination, and support for measures to tackle the disease in badgers through piloting a targeted, humane cull."