The BSE testing programme in the UK is to be extended to include between 150,000 and 200,000 extra head of cattle a year.

Animal Health Minister Elliot Morley commented: "These tests will give us a more accurate picture of the level of BSE infectivity in the UK herd and will add to results from our existing already much expanded testing programme."

The testing will take place at the LGC laboratories, which has won a competitive tendering exercise to test all of the cattle born between 1 August 1996 and 31 July 1997, and slaughtered under the Over Thirty Months Scheme (OTMS). 

"Cattle born in the year after 1 August 1996 are particularly significant as this is the date when our strengthened feed controls were considered to be fully effective," explained Morley.