Beef finishers looking to buy cattle that have not been pre-movement tested for bovine tuberculosis are being urged to apply to the Divisional Veterinary Manager for Exempt Finishing Unit status.

The advice comes from the National Beef Association, which is keen to see a finishing route established for non-PrMT store cattle moving through exempt auction markets handling animals from one- and two-year testing herds.

“The introduction of PrMT means that, if the exempt markets system is to work, there must be buyers for the cattle being put through them,” said NBA chief executive Robert Forster.

“It is thought that about 50 auction companies may eventually be able to hold PrMT exempt sales and this suggests that a network of about 500 exempt units will be needed to handle throughput and uphold the exemption system,” he added.

But beef finishers are warned:

The criteria for EFU status are tough and the State Veterinary Service is expected to follow strict guidelines when inspecting an applicant’s holding.

The NBA is hopeful that modified conditions for units approved by DEFRA only last week will encourage more finishers to make applications.

These confirm that grazing land can be included in an exempt unit, if it is in a one-year testing parish, as long as the fields are double fenced to prevent nose-to-nose contact with non-EFU cattle and there are no connecting watercourses.

The regulations also allow for the sharing of machinery between an exempt and non-exempt feeding operation if the owner submits a written biosecurity plan to the DVM that covers cleansing and disinfection protocols for all equipment moving off the EFU. Washable, or disposable, protective clothing must also be provided for exclusive use within the EFU.

“In addition to this DEFRA will allow manure produced on an exempt unit to be stored for up to three weeks before spreading on grassland as long as the field is not grazed, or a silage crop taken off it, for at least 60 days afterwards,” said Mr Forster.

Use the State Veterinary website to obtain the contact details of your local Animal Health Divisional Office (www.svs.gov.uk/ahdo_locations.htm)