Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) incidents in Northern Ireland are at their highest levels in over 20 years. Around 22,000 herds are tested for the disease every year; in 2022, 17,840 cattle tested positive and had to be slaughtered – including the Kelso family’s herd.
Losing their herd of over 130 milking cows to bTB in 2022 was devasting for Mervyn and James Kelso from Portglenone, County Antrim.
“I’ve been milking cows here for over 30 years, building up a productive herd with excellent genetics. We lost over 130 cows and more youngstock due to bTB and then were not allowed to bring in more cows for 120 days,” tells farm owner Mervyn Kelso.
The Kelso’s also had problems sourcing enough replacement stock locally to get them up and running again. With milk prices at record highs, farmers held on to the stock, and any in stock went at crazy prices.
“The big problem was at that time, milk was over 50p per litre, and no one was selling stock. Any cows that were for sale were overpriced, so we had to look elsewhere,” he adds.