NI Deer bTB Survey 2020 can you help?

You will most likely be aware of the current bTB epidemic in cattle in Northern Ireland. The eradication programme for bTB costs and estimated £40 million per year, with an average of 1000 cattle culled each month. But despite these large-scale eradication efforts, bTB remains a huge problem for the NI farming sector.

Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) would like to raise your awareness of a research project being carried out into bovine Tuberculosis in deer in NI. This project aims to gain a better understanding of the extent of bTB in Red, Sika and Fallow deer.


AFBI hopes to continue its work that will have several benefits, including;

  • a clearer picture of the role deer may play in the current TB epidemic in cattle
  • an improved understanding of the biosecurity implications of processing and consuming venison
  • a greater appreciation of the animal health and welfare consequences of this disease
  • the production of novel scientific knowledge.

AFBI are asking members of the deer stalking community to provide the heads (with antlers removed) of shot animals for TB testing. Samples will be collected from a convenient location by the DAERA Wildlife Unit. For anyone aware of the DAERA fox survey, sample collection will work in much the same way, and use the same telephone number  02877 442 399.

Members providing a sample should also fill in the following submission form. AFBI_bTB_submissionform 

This document needs to be submitted with each individual head. Sample bags to put the heads in, and sandwich bags and cable ties to attach the info sheet to the head are now available and can be delivered to you. Please contact Siobhan on the number below to arrange collection/delivery of the sample bags. The DAERA staff collecting the heads will also have bags in their vans should any extra be needed.

AFBI kindly ask that all heads have antlers removed, and are double-bagged where possible. 

This survey is set to run from 1 November 2020 to 31 March 2021. Further details on how to contribute will be provided in the near future.

In the meantime, we would be very grateful if any interested parties would provide us with a small amount of information to aid in the set-up of project logistics. If possible, we would ask for a name, contact email/number, and the DVO you are likely to be operating in (see map below). All information will be treated in the strictest confidence, and in line with GDPR regulations.

For more information, or to request materials, please contact Dr Siobhán Porter at

 To make a submission, phone 028 77 442 399 or email




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