Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Characteristics of Northern Irish cattle herds without bovine tuberculosis infection
  1. Georgina Milne1,
  2. Jordon Graham1,
  3. Adrian R Allen1,
  4. Angela Lahuerta-Marin1,
  5. Carl M McCormick1,2,
  6. Eleanor Presho1,
  7. Robin A Skuce1 and
  8. Andrew Byrne1,3
  1. 1 AFBI Veterinary Sciences Division, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute Stormont, Belfast, UK
  2. 2 Veterinary Service, Animal Health, Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), Belfast, UK
  3. 3 School of Biological Sciences, Medical Biology Centre, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence; georgina.milne{at}


Background Despite ongoing eradication efforts, bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is endemic in cattle herds in Northern Ireland (NI). This disease has serious implications for the economy, farming and animal welfare. Previous research identified a population of herds which have remained free from bTB infection for 10 years (2004–2014). Understanding the characteristics of these herds may have important implications for eradication efforts, such as spatially targeted interventions.

Methods A cluster analysis and a retrospective case–control analysis was conducted to compare bTB- free herds with herds which experienced prolonged infection (ie, bTB breakdowns lasting more than ≥ 365 days).

Results Only small, localised clusters of herds which have remained free from bTB were revealed, thus limiting the potential for spatially targeted interventions. The results illustrated the importance of herd size to disease status; over 27 per cent of the bTB-free herds had up to 10 animals. However, the data also showed that there were no inward movements in the year before the bTB skin test in those herds which remained free from bTB.

Conclusions Attention should therefore be given to the cattle movement network in NI to better understand the risk associated with cattle purchasing.

  • bovine tuberculosis
  • case-control studies
  • spatial analysis
  • cattle
View Full Text

Statistics from


  • Contributors This research was conceived by AB and GM. The paper was written by GM in conjunction with AB, ARA, RAS and AML. RAS, ARA, JG, CMM and EP collected and managed the data.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.