The number of dairy cattle slaughtered as a result of bovine TB has increased by 42% since last year, alarming new figures show.

Some 3,998 cattle were slaughtered in March due to the disease - a third more than in March 2008, according to DairyCo. More than half were dairy cattle.

TB slaughterings are currently at their highest level since records began in 1996 and the disease is causing huge problems to the unpasteurised cheese industry, which experts have warned could become a thing of the past if the disease is not checked.