AN agricultural college is stopping students from contact with its cattle as a post mortem is carried out on one of its animals, which showed possible signs of bovine tuberculosis (TB).

East Durham College has issued a statement advise its students and the local community that it does not have a confirmed case of TB on Houghall Farm, on the outskirts of Durham.

The statement said: "A routine post-mortem inspection of one of our finishing cattle showed possible signs of infection.

"The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratory Agency are now carrying out further tests to identify the cause of this, we hope to have the results by October 1.

"The tests include TB (Bovine tuberculosis). The animal was in prime condition with no signs of ill health, we have not had TB on the farm for over twenty years.

"It should be noted that according to the latest annual report by the Animal and Plant Health Agency, the North East of England had very little evidence of TB, with only eight inconclusive results, none of these were in County Durham. Given the history of the farm and the area it is extremely unlikely to be TB."

The statement adds: "Fortunately, this infection relates to only one animal, the rest of our cattle have been out grazing all summer.

"As a precaution, our students will not be allowed to come into contact with cattle until we have confirmed our TB Free Status. We have also notified anyone who may have come into contact with our herd.

"We will be carrying out a full herd test on September 7. We have also upgraded the biosecurity entrance to the farm with improved changing and washing facilities. As ever, we insist that students use separate PPE (personal protective equipment) at college to that used on their home farm or work placement.

"We trust the farming community will understand our position and appreciate the information provided. If nothing else, it is a good reminder of the importance of biosecurity on every farm."

The college goes on to say that "otherwise 2021 has been an outstanding year for the Houghall Campus, with record numbers of students enrolling as well as the government announcement, back in April, that Houghall will receive multi-million pounds of funding to further develop our facilities".

This year it will welcome over 50 young farmers to its agricultural courses and will soon be able to offer a full range of short courses too. There are also plans to introduce more degree courses in partnership with the Royal Agricultural University.