The expansion of the dairy herd in Ireland since 2015 has had an “impact on increasing TB levels” according to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

Minister Charlie McConalogue has also highlighted that “larger herds, fragmented farms, and herds that buy in cattle are all more at risk” of a bovine tuberculosis (bTB) breakdown.

In response to a parliamentary question raised by the Fine Gael TD for Kildare North, Bernard Durkan, the minister outlined that there are three main sources of infection for cattle in this country – “the purchase of infected cattle, the presence of residual (undetected) infection within cattle herds and spread from wildlife (badgers predominately)”. 

“The relative importance of these factors vary from herd to herd and all three need to be addressed to protect livestock and eradicate TB,” he added.

Minister McConalogue also underlined to Deputy Durkan that bovine TB is a “challenging disease to control and eradicate”.

“I am acutely aware of the financial and emotional trauma associated with a TB breakdown.

“It causes significant hardship for farmers and farming families, and I am fully committed to the objectives of the Bovine TB Eradication Strategy which aims to reduce and ultimately eradicate this disease in Ireland,” he added.


Latest figures from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) show that at the beginning of June 2024 on a 12-month rolling basis, herd incidence had increased to 5.09% compared to 4.56% at the same time last year.

Minister McConalogue told Deputy Durkan, that “in the past 12 months 5,215 herds were restricted, compared to 4,731 in the previous 12-month period”.

This represented an increase of 484 herds TB restricted (10.23%).

He also highlighted that while the spread of the disease is “multifactorial, it is being fought on many fronts”.

The minister detailed that each TB outbreak is investigated by a veterinary inspector to identify the source of infection.

“In the case of every outbreak involving three or more standard reactors, there is a veterinary visit to advise the herdowner on how to eliminate infection and measures necessary to help reduce the risk of recurrence. 

“Emphasis is placed on the biosecurity measures a farmer can take to reduce risks on their farm, and when buying in animals,” he added.