Producers were given just five working days to prepare for pre-movement TB testing rules when DEFRA published guidance last Friday (10 February) on how testing would work in practice.

Chris Dodds, executive secretary of the Livestock Auctioneers’ Association said: “This is typical of DEFRA, leaving everything to the 11th hour and expecting the livestock industry to sort it all out.”

However, the LAA is convinced that markets will be able to work within the rules when they come into force on Monday (20 February).

And, along with the NFU, the LAA has provided answers to the key questions on pre-movement testing for Farmers Weekly readers.

 
Important Information 
  

When does the pre-movement testing regime start?

  • In England it starts on 20 February, 2006. In Scotland it is already in place. In Wales it is due to start in late spring 2006.

Which cattle should be tested?

  • Cattle over 15 months old from one- and two-yearly TB testing farms. However, they do not
    have to be tested if they are moving direct to slaughter; to an approved or exempt finishing unit; back to the farm of origin; or to any of these options via an “exempt market”.

What is an “exempt market”?

  • A market that has been approved to hold sales of cattle that are eligible for pre-movement testing but which have not been tested.

Can exempt markets be held on the same premises and on the same day as “Green markets” (six-day rule markets)?

  • Yes, if approved. The two types of sale must be either physically separated or held at different times.

Will markets apply for “exempt” status?

  • Yes. The LAA expects most markets selling prime cattle and cull cows to apply for exempt status. However, markets selling store and breeding cattle are likely to require all eligible cattle to have been tested. The LAA anticipates that all markets will be able to continue selling cattle as at present.

What documentation will I need to prove my cattle have been pre-movement tested?

  • Vets will issue a group certificate for all the cattle testing as clear. Markets are likely to request either a farmer declaration or copies of this certificate for all pre-movement tested cattle presented for sale.

How long is the pre-movement test valid for?

  • 60 days.

Who pays for the test?

  • The farmer, unless it is incorporated into the herd annual/bi-annual test, when DEFRA will pay.