WALES is failing to get to grip with bovine TB, and a “callous” policy is having a negative impact on farmers’ mental health, the Senedd heard.

Samuel Kurtz said latest statistics show a two per cent decline in the number of animals slaughtered in Wales due to TB, which “pales” compared with a 21 per cent decline in England.

The Conservatives’ shadow rural affairs minister argued that Wales is the poorest performer in Great Britain when it comes to tackling bovine TB.

But Lesley Griffiths, the rural affairs minister, stressed that long-term trends show fewer affected herds and new incidents in Wales.

Mr Kurtz raised concerns about the mental anguish farmers have to go through, particularly with the slaughter of in-calf cows and heifers.

“Not allowing these animals to calve with dignity before being culled places a huge mental strain on our farmers,” said the Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire MS.

“I've called repeatedly for flexibility, as there is in England, to allow farmers the choice to either cull the infected dam whilst in calf, or to allow them to isolate the dam, allowing it to calve before being culled.

“This would not be a seismic change in policy, but it would be a seismic change to the mental well-being of farmers, who suffer the emotional and physical effects of seeing pregnant cows slaughtered and the calves drowning, suffocating in their mothers' wombs.”

In March, the Welsh Government published a refreshed delivery plan setting out its approach to TB eradication over the next five years.