Department’s pilot deer fencing project aimed at reducing TB ‘a good start’

The Department of Agriculture’s plans to undertake a pilot deer fencing project in Wicklow, aimed at reducing TB has been welcomed by Macra na Feirme.

Last week’s meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Agriculture saw Aidan O’Driscoll, Secretary General for the Department of Agriculture, announce the proposed project.

The motion of using fencing as a viable means of bio-exclusion was put forward by Macra in the recent submission to the Department of Agriculture’s National Farmed Animal Health Strategy.

Speaking on the issue of TB, Macra National President Sean Finan said that farmers in Wicklow are finding themselves in a constant battle with TB.

The Department is showing commitments to tackling the problem and is taking a step in the right direction through the proposed deer fencing pilot project.

Macra’s submission to the National Farmed Animal Health Strategy recommended the inclusion of wildlife fencing to TAMS, as an effective means of bio-exclusion.

It was proposed that wildlife fencing only be included in TAMS on an area specific basis, only being made available in areas facing severe wildlife disease transmission dilemmas.

Should the pilot project prove to be successful in decreasing TB in the Wicklow area, Macra would urge the Department to allow for wildlife fencing aimed at prevent disease encroachment on farm, to be included under TAMS.

Also included in Macra’s submission was the need for the higher threshold for TAMS to be made available to all farmers for animal health infrastructure aimed at improving bio-security levels on farm.

Improving the uptake of bio-security infrastructure, such as isolation boxes, is a must to prevent disease transmission between farms, the young farmers organisation said.

Finan said that while Macra’s primary objective is always focused on young farmers, Macra feels access to the higher threshold level for TAMS funding needs to be made available to all farmers for bio security measures, such as isolation boxes.

“It is hoped the higher rate of funding for infrastructure like this will benefit the sector as whole by increasing the uptake of these structures on farm and decreasing the spread of disease from farm to farm.

“Decreased spread of disease between farms will inevitably benefit our members in the long run.”

Also Read: Department to fund pilot deer fencing project

Macra’s submission raised the concern of the increasing global concern of antimicrobial resistance.

With the effects of anthelmintic resistance being experienced in the sheep sector, it is pivotal from an animal and public health perspective a similar scenario does not occur with resistance to antibiotics.

Macra feels it is crucial an effective antibiotic recording system is established to aid any strategy being developed to battle antimicrobial resistance.

“While farmers unquestionably have responsibility for their animal’s health, under certain circumstances animal health can be out of the control of the farmer.

“In these circumstances, it is crucial the Department of Agriculture steps in and support farmers,” he said.