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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Just under 23,000 TB reactors in 2020

According to data from the DAFM, it detected 22,562 TB reactors in 2020, a figure that rose from 17,000 the previous year.

Minister McConalogue has revealed that up to September 29th, 2021, the DAFM detected 14,901 TB reactors.

During a recent Dáil debate on animal diseases, the minister pointed out that herd incidence rose every year between 2016 and 2020.

O’Sullivan asked the minister: what numbers of bovine animals in the beef and dairy herds were found to have failed the TB eradication test in 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021?

He described the rise of the disease, which causes “untold hardship for farmers and farm families”, as “very concerning”.

In response to deputy Pádraig O’Sullivan, he said that “all eyes and brains are being applied to ensure we are taking a scientific approach to drive down TB numbers”.

He views “getting to a position where we can drive down numbers as low as possible and work towards eradication” as the “best outcome for all farm families”.

The minister said the DAFM is determined to “set the right course”. It desires to “reverse the challenging increase in TB incidence we have seen in recent years”.

TB reactors 

During the exchange, the minister provided the following figures:


  • Dairy herd reactor animals: 8,837;
  • Suckler herd reactor animals: 5,894;
  • Other herd reactor animals: 347.


  • Dairy herd reactor animals: 12,440;
  • Suckler herd reactor animals: 7,275
  • Other herd reactor animals: 515.

Up to September 29th, 2021:

  • Dairy herd reactor animals: 8,402;
  • Suckler herd reactor animals: 4,684;
  • Other herd reactor animals: 344.

Earlier this year, the minister launched a new bovine TD eradication strategy for 2021-2030. He said the TB strategy is a “living document which will be subject to amendment and refinement on an ongoing basis”.

The minister added that we “must do everything we can, working together, to tackle this very serious challenge”.

Deputy O’Sullivan asked the minister to look at the issue of stock retention on the farm while awaiting de-restriction and the requirement for newborn calves to be reared on a farm.

“These calves can often be sold at seven weeks. Many farms are not set up and simply do not have the space for these extra numbers.“

“This is placing a significant workload and burden on individual farmers,” he added.

Also, he asked the minister to consider:

  • Allowing contract-reared animals and heifers reared in outside places to return home to the herd;
  • Including these in the compensation framework.

O’Sullivan said: “The figures the minister provided are very concerning and the trend is clear for people to see.”

“It confirms what we hear on the ground, namely, that TB is prevalent again.”

“Many farmers I have contact with have spoken of TB in their herds for the first time in 30 years. This causes monetary and personal distress for these farmers.”

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