A MAJOR regional conference to highlight the ‘increasing’ threats posed by livestock disease is to be held near Kendal.

Bovine TB, Johnes disease and Neospora are all on the agenda at the North West Beef and Sheep Conference taking place at the J36 Rural Auction Centre, Crooklands, next Wednesday (June 11).

Organiser James Hadwin, of Kendal-based SAC Consulting, said: “With downward pressure on prices as supermarkets compete to offer consumers best value, the primary producers of beef and sheep must be as efficient as possible – and that means controlling disease.

“This free conference will bring together farmers, their vets and leading experts to discuss the latest information on a range of potential threats.

“Through the recent North West Livestock Programme, more than 1,600 local farmers have prepared herd-health plans and are thinking how best to avoid disease.

“But potential threats are increasing, including the spread of Bovine TB into the area. We wanted to bring farmers, vets, and advisers together to think about these and other issues affecting the viability and efficiency of their businesses.”

Dr Malcolm Bennett opens the event with a report on a Liverpool University study carried out on road kill badgers to help identify the level of Bovine TB in wildlife.

Another disease threat to cattle is Neospora, linked to a parasite spread by dogs and one of the main causes of abortion in cattle.

Dumfries-based vet Colin Mason will outline the progress of what is a developing issue for beef farmers, and an expert from Edinburgh’s Moredun Institute will outline the work being done to develop a more robust test for Johne’s disease, another hidden threat to the cattle industry.

Other speakers will focus on production, including nutrition and feed efficiency and paddock grazing, which is a way of managing grass that is familiar to dairy farmers but is now gaining in popularity in the beef sector.

The event from 10am to 4pm includes lunch.

Attendees must register in advance with Kite Consulting on 01902-851007.