Federal officials say at least 10,000 cattle are going to slaughter as a result of a bovine tuberculosis outbreak in western Canada.
Dr. Harpeet Kochhar, chief veterinary officer with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, said the animals are from some of the ranches that are under quarantine in southeastern Alberta.
“Roughly, if I was going to make an estimate of the number, it would be in the range of around 10,000 probably,” he said Monday.
The agency said these animals are considered “high risk” for contracting or transmitting the infectious disease, even though only six cattle have tested positive for bovine TB since the first case was confirmed in September.
The agency last week declared six properties among those considered as high risk for transmission.
Kochhar said the CFIA has added 12 more farms to the expanding list, bringing the total to 18.
So far, quarantine orders have been issued at more than 40 cattle operations in southeast Alberta and southwest Saskatchewan, affecting more than 22,000 animals.
He warned the number could increase again.
“As the investigation proceeds we will find that there are more trace outs. We may find another animal which comes back positive. This number will continue to change and evolve.”
Kochhar said only slaughtered animals that test negative for bovine TB will be deemed acceptable for human consumption.
Farmers losing their animals as part of the slaughter are being compensated under CFIA guidelines.
The federal government has promised aid to ranchers who are continuing to feed cattle quarantined to their properties.
The group Alberta Beef Producers said the requirements for a feedlot option to accommodate calves from quarantined farms that are not equipped for winter feeding have been approved by the industry and the CFIA.
The group, which represents about 19,000 producers in Alberta, said it is working to identify feedlots that would be willing to handle these cattle.